The manufacturer of the eight-wheeled Stryker vehicles that make up the backbone of the Army’s fleet at Joint Base Lewis-McChord is unveiling new models of at a conference this week, including ones that would have run counter to their initial purpose as a rapidly deployable medium weight infantry carrier.
General Dynamics is pitching the new models as a path for the Army to improve its vehicle fleet without spending billions of dollars designing new options.
One of the new models is a tracked Stryker that weighs some 42 tons – 22 tons more than an off-the-floor, basic Stryker infantry carrier.*
That’s a significant turn from the Army’s call to create a lighter, wheeled vehicle when it launched the Stryker program and sent the first models to then-Fort Lewis a decade ago. The tracked model is intended to help General Dynamics win a contract to create the next Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, replacing M113 personnel carriers.
“It’s going to be quite a good offering for us,” Mike Cannon, senior vice president for ground combat systems at General Dynamics, told Shepard Media.
“And even if it doesn’t go as the AMPV solution we still believe that we needed a medium weight tracked vehicle in our portfolio. And this will be our first one…And it’s pretty slick looking,” he told Shephard’s Scott Gourley.
Reports from the conference show that Cannon is pitching the new Strykers as more fuel efficient than armored personnel carriers it would replace. National Defense Magazine reports that Strykers cost $18 per mile to operate compared to $45 per mile for the M1113.
Lewis-McChord has about 900 Strykers for its three infantry brigades, the largest concentration of the vehicles in the Army. General Dynamics and the Army have redesigned the vehicle several times over the past decade of constant ground warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, most recently by creating a slanted “double v hull” to deflect the impact of deadly buried bombs in Afghanistan.
In other Stryker news, the Army is considering placing more of the vehicles in Hawaii under the Pacific Command. The goal, reports the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, is to put them closer to where they might be needed for conflicts in the Pacific as the war in Afghanistan ends.
*An earlier version of this post misstated the weight of the tracked Stryker. It is estimated to be 84,000 pounds.