We are all aware of the serious problems with the Stryker MGS, but now that Stryker Brigades have entered combat, and peace stabilization work in Iraq, a number of observations have been made. They are a hell of a lot safer than being in a light armored jeep. They can handle rifle and machine rounds. Smaller IED and personnel mines handled without too much difficulty. However, they cannot take the punishment that the M2 Bradley can handle.
Even with SLAT armor, they have fallen prey when multiple RPG are fired at them. They are reportedly also taking a lot of damage in the wheel areas of the vehicles, whereas the tracked M2 would brush them off, keep on moving, and fighting. Considering the foregoing, do you think the Stryker will be relegated a lesser position in the new modular army, with the M2 being put back into the spotlight. I note that to date I haven't seen much about the speed of the Stryker being of much use in convoy or patrol duties, which makes one wonder if the think-tanks are hashing this over in terms of light mobility that can't handle RPG's let alone larger munitions. The M2/M3 has shown that they can take more damage, sure, but they're still vulnerable to RPGs.
The other thing that surprised me is that Stryker's tend to do better when hit in the wheel areas than Bradley's; the RPG detonates when it hits the tires, meaning it disables the vehicle but doesn't punch through the armor, while the same hit wouldn't necessarily disable the Bradley but it'd kill everybody inside. I'll ride in the Stryker. Also, the Stryker was never meant to lead an assault when there was real armor available; it's supposed to deploy quickly like the 82nd did in 1990 for the Gulf War, and then it's good for peacekeeping stuff, plus it's a good platform for middle echelon forces. The Stryker's have done pretty good in Mosul with 1-24 INF. I saw that had been hit by a car bomb, the only thing really wrong with it was the tyranny made some funny noises and it needed some new tires and a paint job. One item that the Stryker units in Iraq wish they had "the day before" is the version with the 105mm cannon.
But because of problems with the autoloader it's IOC has been pushed back to 2008 or 2009. For the life of me I can not figure out why the US Army does not buy some of those off the shelf 105mm two man conventional turrets (Cadillac Gage has them in production for export orders) and fit them to Stryker's for Iraq till the overhead turret version is available. Yes, the TOW bunker buster is "some what" filling that role (i.e. electrical wires cause problems in urban warfare), but all the commanders say a conventional cannon is needed NOW.
And in fact the conventional turret 105mm is much better for the type of warfare that the US Army is now engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan (i.e. the turret commander can acquire targets and direct fire better).
The only clear cut advantage that the overhead turret has is in the tank destroyer role. Finally, if the US Army bought a batch of conventional 105mm turrets for an interim solution, after the overhead turret version is fielded those turrets could be removed and easily sold on the world export market. One of the problems with the Stryker MGS is that some people tried to make them a tank replacement.
They could have gotten away with a vehicle with more firepower over the 25-40mm cannon, with something like the Canadian Cougar with its short 76mm gun, and had no problems with shooting it. However, that would have brought into question the disparity between the 105-120mm guns on tanks. I have no problems with light armored forces, after all that is what I served in, however the Rumsfeld's of the world, and lord knows we have our share of them up here, had an agenda and nothing was going to change their ideology, even if lives were lost.
For me and I'd suggest many others that is the bottom line. It also brings into question the thought processes that the Stryker's would not be in frontline combat as this would be left to tanks and heavier armor in the way of the M2 and M3, but they somehow forgot how insurgency fighting can be as dangerous as frontline duty. Convoys with weaker armor can still cost lives, just as frontline combat can and in Iraq that never ending lesson is played out far too often. One of the other posters said something important, IMHO, that these types of vehicles have a place for base security patrols, true peacekeeping where the belligerents want you there as a buffer force, but otherwise this use of Stryker's in a combat zone has to be rethought. Maybe with newer Stryker's that have added armor this situation will improve. I know that they have done pretty good in Iraq and in Afghanistan.
In prior conflicts Canadian troops lost their legs, and sometimes lives due to the inherit weakness in the M-113 APC, with the wheels and bottom protection doing what they are supposed to do, and that is all to the good side of the equation. However, without added armor protection that benefit is lost and also the nonsense about making them air transportable. No way with the added armor. Makes one think again that both Lockheed-Martin and Boeing have missed the boat in not creating a successor to the Herc, and why the A400M Airbus with its superior payload capacity while still having the same take off and landing requirements of a Herc will win the day in many purchases from NATO countries.
Unproven yes, but if it does succeed, LM's lead in the medium military lift field will be extinguished.
Victor Epand is an expert consultant for http://www.CombatCloth.info/. CombatCloth.info carries the best selection of combat clothing, gear, and accessories on the market.