Stryker Armored Vehicle
Formerly known as the Interim Armored Vehicle, the Stryker Light Armored Vehicle III [LAV III] is at the center of the Army's Interim Brigade Combat Teams. The IBCTs are lighter and more mobile, yet offer firepower no enemy can hope to match. Strykers are being deployed to units at Fort Lewis, WA. In all, six brigades will receive the vehicles. Each brigade will have more than 300 Strykers apiece.
In February 2002 the Army named its new interim armored vehicle after two soldiers who received the Medal of Honor. The Stryker is named in honor of Spc. 4 Robert F. Stryker, who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Vietnam War, and Pfc. Stuart S. Stryker, who received the award for his actions during World War II. Both men were killed in action. They were not related. This is only the second Army vehicle named after enlisted personnel. In the early 1980s, the service named the Division Air Defense gun for World War I hero Sgt. Alvin York. The system was plagued with problems before then- Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger cancelled it.
The Army's LAV is being produced in two major variants: the Infantry Carrier Vehicle and the Mobile Gun System. The Mobile Gun System will have a 105mm cannon, the same gun tube as the one on the original M-1 Abrams tank. This is not a tank replacement, but it gives a direct fire capability to support the infantry elements. Before the Mobile Gun System is fielded, units will get the Anti-tank Guided Missile Vehicle which will have a TOW system capable of blasting through reinforced concrete bunkers.
All of the LAVs will be deployable by C-130 and larger aircraft. As of September 2002 the Army was flying Stryker in C-130s under a temporary waiver issued by the Air Force. The waiver was necessary because the vehicle is too wide to accommodate the 14-inch safety aisle around all sides that is required by the Air Force for the loadmaster. Additionally, only a portion of its crew may fly in the same aircraft. Yet, the Army disputes claims that Stryker -- the centerpiece of its new Brigade Combat Teams -- is not transportable via C-130. During the Millennium Challenge exercise the Infantry Carrier Vehicle variant required multiple alterations to fit into a C-130: The crew removed two smoke grenade launchers, all antennas, a left rear bracket that blocked egress over the top of the vehicle, the Remote Weapons System and the third-row wheel's bump-stop. Reassembly upon landing took as long as 17 minutes.
One of the Army's transformation goals is to be able to deploy brigade combat teams anywhere in the world within 96 hours, a division in 120 hours and five divisions within 30 days, according to Army Chief of Staff GEN Eric K. Shinseki. The LAV III is considered an "interim armored vehicle" because it is not the final vehicle that will equip the transformation "objective force" of the future. This is not an experimental force, rather it represents a force capable of meeting the needs of regional commanders in chief, while concurrently assisting the Army in developing doctrine to meet 21st-century threats.
They have a maximum speed of 60 miles per hour and a range of 300 miles on a tank of fuel. The vehicle are swift, easily maintainable and include features designed for the safety of soldiers. The LAV's tires can be inflated or deflated from inside the vehicle to adapt to surfaces ranging from deep mud to hardtop, and it has run-flat tires, a built-in fire-suppression system and self-recovery winch. The vehicles run quieter than the current armored personnel carriers, increasing their "stealth." They also gave the new brigades a reduced logistics footprint, and make the units cheaper to operate than today's heavy brigades. The Interim Brigade Combat Team should be about 25 percent cheaper to operate than today's heavy brigades.
The LAV engine is a Caterpillar engine, which is common to the Army's family of medium tactical vehicles. That means some of the same repair parts can be used. Commonality of equipment reduces the brigade's logistical footprint and support costs and makes the entire vehicle fleet easier to maintain. This allowed the use of the same support structure for all of a unit's vehicles, including mechanics and parts.
Reducing its weight is a modification the Stryker underwent before the vehicles arrive in May at 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division and 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, both located at Fort Lewis, Wash. The Stryker was reported to be 4,000 pounds more than the 38,000-pound requirement. However, officials expect that the vehicles will meet weight limits, which will allow them to be loaded and transported on a C-130 cargo plane.
For vehicles weighing 10-20 tons, tracked vehicles have better cross-country mobility in sand, mud and snow than wheeled vehicles, while wheeled vehicles have much better speed and ride quality over primary and secondary roads than tracked vehicles.
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