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Latest Stryker variant arrives for duty

By J.C. Mathews

FORT LEWIS, Wa. (Army News Service, Aug. 12, 2005) - Soldiers from 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, have been rotating to Yakima Training Center this summer to train on the first Stryker Mortar Carrier version B, the latest variant of the Stryker to arrive for duty.

Brigade units will field the MCV-B, essentially a Stryker with a 120mm mortar mounted in what would normally be the crew compartment, during the fall.

“It allows us to be accurate more quickly, to fire fewer rounds to hit the target,” said Spc. Timothy French, a mortar vehicle commander with B Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry. “We can place faster, get the gun out faster, get the rounds downrange faster. It literally cuts our time in half.”

The new Stryker variant replaces the MCV-A, which transported mortars that had to be unloaded and set up to fire. The MCV-B’s 120mm mortar is mounted and fires from inside the vehicle through doors that swing open atop the vehicle. It also includes a digital fire control system that can receive fire missions and help the vehicle’s five-man crew aim the mortar more effectively.

Each of the mortar vehicles has the mounted 120mm mortar and carries a second mortar that has to be unloaded and set up for firing. The MCV-B at battalion level carries the 81mm mortar; company mortar vehicles carry the 60mm version. According to Capt. Teddy Kleiser, B Company commander, the choice of weapons provides commanders flexibility.

Brian Jenne, liaison officer for the Training and Doctrine Command System Manager Stryker at Fort Lewis, has watched French’s and other units conduct their initial training on the MCV-B and is already providing feedback from troops to Army officials fielding the system.

For example, Soldiers have consistently advocated adding a hatch for an air guard in the mortar doors atop the vehicle, an option now under consideration, Jenne said. Also, the previous variant could be emptied of its contents and used as an alternate troop carrier - an impractical option with a mortar permanently mounted inside the MCV-B.

Even if the feedback isn’t all positive, Jenne said all of it is useful. “Anytime that we can interface with the Soldier on a new piece of equipment and gather information from them, then we’ll take that into consideration to see how we can make the system better,” he said.

Still, Jenne said troops’ initial reaction to the vehicle has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The Soldiers like it - it’s easy to maintain, and it’s pretty simple,” he added. “They like not having to dismount the weapon. It’s also very, very accurate - they like that the best.”

The brigade is expected to complete its new equipment training on the MCV-B during August or September.

(Editor’s Note: J.C. Mathews is a writer for the Fort Lewis Northwest Guardian.)



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