XM1296 Stryker ICV Dragoon
The US Army accepted a prototype version of the Stryker 8x8 wheeled vehicle fitted with a Kongsberg Protector MCT-30 turret, which is armed with a fully stabilized 30 mm XM 813 chain gun, based on the Mk 44 Bushmaster II from Aliant Techsystems (ATK), as urgent operational requirement for the Germany-based 2nd Cavalry Regiment (aka the 2nd Dragoons). This variant of the Stryker is known as the Stryker ICV Dragoon or simply Dragoon, the official designation is XM1296. The vehicle is expected to enter actual troop service in May 2018.
Aside of the 30 mm cannon, the unmanned MCT-30 turret can be fitted with an optional coaxial machine gun, that is externally mounted above the gun shield, but apparently the US Army hasn't opted for it. Another option not taken on the Dragoon is the inclusion of a separate sight for the commander, which would have enabled the vehicle to be used in hunter-killer operations. The gunner is provided with an optronic unit including a thermal imager, a daysight camera and a laser-rangefinder.
The MCT-30 turret stores only 150 rounds of 30 x 173 mm ammunition (two types, of each 75 rounds), however unlike other unmanned turrets it can be reloaded from the interior, if the space below the resupply hatch is not occupied. It offers only limited ballistic protection, reaching only STANAG 4569 level 1 in the base configuration. With applique armor the protection can be boosted up to level 4 (resisting 14.5 mm AP ammunition fired from 200 metres distance); the Dragoon's turret is fitted with bolt-on armor, however the exact protection level has yet to be revealed.
The new Stryker variant is not without detractors. With only 81 old Stryker ICVs being converted to the Dragoon variant, is it a rather scarce and thus relatively expensive. Spare parts might be limited and supplied only to repair depots in Germany, making operations outside of Europe wuqstionable. The 30 x 173 mm calibre is uncommon in the US Army, but used by the Airforce and Navy, but with ammunition types not necessarily suited for the Dragoon.
Dragoon is based on rebuild Stryker with flat-bottomed hull - not on the improved vehicle with double-V hull adopted after the Stryker's vulnerability to mines and IEDs became apparent. Thus the vehicle is not well suited for assymetrical and hybrid warfare. It may be less than optimal in conventional warfare, given Soviet/Yugoslavian anti-tank and anti-infantry mines.
The Stryker Dragoon is an interim solution, following an urgent operational requirement. If the Army decided to increase the number of Dragoons, it might take a number of steps to enhance the design. Lithuania for example has ordered 88 Vilkas infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), a Dutch-German Boxer wheeled 8x8 vehicle fitted with an Israeli-made Samson Mk II remote weapon station (RWS). This offers the same level of protection as the Kongsberg Protector MCT-30. It includes a dual-launcher for Spike-LR ATGMs and independent optics for the commander. The Boxer includes a multi-layered composite floor to protect against large anti-vehicle mines, and the front of the hull is resistant to the Soviet-made 30 mm APDS ammunition at combat ranges. Such ammo is currently still used by the Russian Army.
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