Ed:  Here are some insider comments about the Army's ongoing effort to develop a family of wheeled light armored vehicles named the "Stryker".

      An MGS showstopper; the Muzzle/Muzzlebrake is too close to the drivers compartment/front slope. The overpressure has been taking out DVE's, lights, mounting brackets, transmission selectors, and split a CVC shell. Good thing there wasn't a human head in it.  MGS prequalification test was scheduled to start in Nov. and has been moved back 3 times because none of the autoloaders on the 5 MGS's in Aberdeen Proving Ground work!  The next line in the dirt is 54 autoloader cycles or test is canceled. 15 Jan was the last attempt and MGS couldn't get past 4. One topic of discussion in Sterling Heights today is AGS Turret on the MGS. The Aries Autoloader was eliminated two other times in source selection and has not worked yet and they are 2 1/2 years into the program. The system loses control of the round location because they don't have the right software and proximity switch tracking.

In sum, MGS testing @ APG is dead in the water. The Autoloader built by inexperienced Aries will not cycle. The best so far is 4 cycles until failure. The AGS Autoloader ran THOUSANDS without failure.  Talked to a "friend" at YPG for Gun Testing for MGS. He told me that at APG yesterday they tested sound levels and that the M-68A1E1 with pepperpot has a Unsafe Zone for troops 900 meters right  and left of the muzzle. I think that really is 450 meters each way. That means the Infantry you're in close combat support of can't be within a half a click when you fire. This sent another shock wave thru the PM's office. The first solution offered was let's cut off the pepperpot muzzle brake. GM's answer was No-Can-Do! Let's add them up: Recoil, Overpressure, Muzzle Blast, extreme decibel levels, Autoloader failure. I'm told that the top 10 showstoppers have no real fixes at present. They may have to delay test for 6 months or more to find solutions.

Each point in the Army's report to Congress regarding the so-called M113 and Stryker side-by-side evaluation is subject to debate. People are unaware that the MTVL with added armor and hybrid-electric engine was bid against the LAV, not the M113, but no one seems to raise this issue.  There are counter points to each point claimed in the Stryker's favor. However, all of the stated claims naturally read like undisputed facts.

In one setting, the report claims that the Stryker is more survivable, so long as your enemy plays by the scenario. Change the scenario and the M113A3 would be more survivable, faster, and roomier. To remove all the stated benefits, make the scenario a narrow urban street, forested lane, where your enemy uses the oldest of ambush tricks. The M113A3 can drive over and crush a hasty obstacle, has better traction and can speed over rubble. Tires that are burning get even hotter when the run flat core catches fire.  Where you got that room and comfort becomes a disadvantage when you are an infantryman with a rifle trying to get out the top and get to the ground. The low silhouette and large cargo hatch gives you exit options that may mean life or death under fire. The Stryker works in the best of circumstances, the M113A3 will increase your ability to survive in the worst of circumstances.

When B co. 1/24 INF. took all it's equipment and soldiers in their combat gear and attempted to Combat Load the Stryker, it was clear to everyone that the Computer Model was way off.  It was also revealed that this was the first real attempt to do it with soldiers. I'd like them to park a fully loaded M113A3 and a Stryker next to each other in the Capitol Parking Lot and explain this logic. It would be a very embarrassing lesson on why you should not accept computer cartoons as gospel.

Fact: The gunners on the Strykers were taken from the MGS platoon and moved to the Stryker Platoon for the test. They were 19K series MOS (tankers) not 11B MOS. This was done because they had background training in weapon station controls, and use of similar sights and fire control. The RWS had several mechanical and software failures and was often not operationally ready. Several events were stopped or rescheduled because the Stryker RWS was down. The unit TO&E also called for two additional personnel to travel with the platoons in their vehicles, a Medic and a Fire Support  NCO. This would increase the number of personnel to 10 on two of the vehicles and their added equipment. The M113A3 could accommodate the extra personnel and equipment, the Strykers could not! 

C4ISR and FBCB2. Here was another deliberate attempt to influence the outcome of the test. The installation of this equipment was without consult of the vehicle manufacturer. The equipment was positioned in idiotic locations. When United Defense builds a M113A3 with a PLGR we place it so the TC can see and use it in the mount. The PLGR for the test was behind the Spall Liner on the right side where it was unusable. The Antenna was positioned where the squad would normally place weapons, not where the guard was to protect it. The EPLRS Antenna was placed in the frontal arc of the Cupola to interfere with the use of the Cal 50MG. not in the right hand corner where the mount for it is normally used. The Squad leaders J-Box was mounted on the opposite side of the vehicle near the ramp (LR) and the FBCB2 (RF). After some heated comments about safety they reluctantly moved it to the proper location.  Components were mounted upside down and used locations where rations and ammo should be stored.

Findings and figures. A sentence reads: While both vehicles provide the basic capabilities required to conduct tasks and subtasks, mission success is impacted by how soldiers employ the vehicle. Once again the scenario has to support the Stryker for them to be judged even or better for the Stryker. But there is a deliberate manipulation here. The "close in fight". The M113 will allow more suppression and speed so you can close the distance to enemy fire and greatly reduce the amount of time and distance the squad is dismounted and away from armor protection. The Stryker is a blind vehicle. The resolution and field of view for the RWS are small. You must scan slowly to acquire in a two dimensional world with one set of eyes. The M113 when in close combat has up to 8 sets of eyes on the battle and 360 degree coverage, of close in situational awareness. With the ACAV kit mounted the Cupola shield protects the TC and the Cal 50. observing to the front. The Squad Leader is behind him in the cargo hatch with M-16. R/F is the SAW gunner, R/C the M203 Grenadier, R/R the M240 MG. The same on the left side. No Blind Spot no Big Dead Zone. It will not take the bad guys long to figure out that if the Fifty barrel is not pointed directly at them, they can walk right up to the vehicle.

All of the hardware related stuff is simple to make equal. When the M113 was produced the customer did not want a NBC connection at every station, if that is a requirement then adding additional hook ups would be a simple upgrade. The current system will support more connections. We are talking inexpensive modifications. The CROWS RWS planned for the MTVL is far superior to the Kongsberg.

Force protection and survivability: 12.7 Sniper and 14.5 MG. If I had a 12.7 Sniper Rifle I'd put the first bullet in the Exposed RWS lens. Now you can operate totally blind or come outside where a pistol shot will take you out. I think the 14.5 testing will show the Stryker will not take too much. It is more marketing than substance.  Frankly, I have to laugh when I think of all the stuck Strykers I saw this summer. In the 5ft trench, on the 2 ft. wall, hung up on a stump, sunk in the mud, rolled over on their sides. In every instance the winch failed and a recovery vehicle had to be used. There were no stuck M113s. The M113 may not have a winch installed but it does have self recovery. If the M113 was hung up on that stump, you would take the tow cable off the ramp and secure it to the tracks and drive off. Twenty minutes at the most. That Stryker was there all night. The Stryker also burned up the winch motor and it was never replaced.

Operational Insights. Say whatever the boss wants to hear. If you're inside that Stryker when the Fire Suppression goes off, it means zero oxygen for 9 men. What is the probability of losing a track opposed to wheel and suspension damage. At least the crew on a M113 can change or repair a track. Even if you had the tools I do not think the whole 9 man squad could get a mine damaged front wheel off a Stryker.

Transportability. The M113A3 with cupola shield and all drives right on to a C130 with the crew onboard. I made the whole Platoon do it in training. It is truthfully, Roll on / Roll off. The Stryker must have the RWS removed by mechanics, then drive the vehicle half a mile to squat the suspension. In about 4 hours the vehicle, with driver only, are loaded, requiring a height waiver. Hope the mechanics and tools get to the destination before you do so you can reassemble it. However you can drive the M113 down the ramp with the Gunner and Driver mounted and charge the 50 Cal and start shooting, defend that C130! The Stryker rolls off defenseless, hope that Air Force loadmaster is a good shot.

It looks like the Army went shopping for a car and a fast talking car salesman sold it on the accessories. All those accessories will fit on our vehicle too. Without the Sticker Shock!  I have talked to quite a few soldiers who fought on M113s in combat, and did research in US Army archives. There is a place for vehicles like the Stryker, excellent MP security vehicle. The Army went from Motorized Infantry to Mechanized Infantry to take the fight to the Enemy with as much protection as possible. Going back to the Stryker allows the Enemy safe havens. They will base forces where the Strykers cannot go and strike at the time and place that supports the best advantage. We will have lost the initiative. 

                                               Name Withheld

2003 www.G2mil.com

Letters

Stryker Costs

Here are the figures.  Interesting.

              Original Contract $
Base       
R&D
Tot Costs     4,200,000,000
# Vehicles    2,131
Cost/Veh      1,970,000

Cost To Date             4,859,200,000
# of Veh                      1691
Cost Per Veh             2,976,159
Total Over Budget   1,526,398,498
Total Proj Cost          6,168,709,934
Total Proj Over Budget   1,968,709,934

My friend Bill noted: The $6.168B cost is only for 1691 vehicles, 440 more vehicles are required to meet the original contract/need. If you add the cost of 440 vehicles at the unit cost of $2.976M an additional cost of $1.309B is incurred. With this the total program cost for 2131 vehicles is $7.477B. This is an 88% increase in cost over the original cost of $4.2B. Some cost performance for an "off-the-shelf vehicle".                        

                                                                                 Roy Ardillo