Wheeled Military Vehicles We Love....And Hate

Piranha III, out for a swim... Surfs Up!!!

The Stryker MGS, The Wrong Gun on the Wrong Chassis

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The Stryker family of vehicles was in theory based on the proven LAV/Piranha series, which the US Marines and many foreign militaries operate, however on closer inspection this claim falls short of the true.

A combat loaded Stryker ICV (Infantry Carrying Vehicle), weighs the same as Canada's LAV-III for which it is based. At 16,500 kg, the LAV-III has a two man turret with a 25 mm cannon, Applique armor and room for eight infantry. The Stryker has only a .50cal Heavy Machine Gun, a different armor package of questionable value and room for nine infantryman. An alternative and considerably more weightly armor package is said to be in development. No space is really gained by deleting the turret, as much of the extra sensor equipment added to the Stryker (that would normally be in the turret) and vehicle commander's station with it's extensive electronics fill that space and then some. The ninth infantryman with all of his equipment make it truly a tight fit indeed.

Another attribute of the Piranha series that the Stryker in all its forms lacks is the ability to swim across rivers. MOWAG has took that amphibious capability a step further in the Piranha III by giving the ability to swim through a surf zone. The LAV-IIIs/Strykers further deviate from the Piranha family by addopting a different engine, the Caterpiller 3126 diesel, stead of the 6V-53T Detriot Deisel. Not only has the second engine been the mainstain of the Piranha line built in North America, it is also the diesel engine fitted to the M113A3 and MTVL. The 6V-53T is know for it's reliablity, compact size and light weight. The space the Cat 3126 diesel takes up has the driver isolated in the front of the vehicle, where as many of the Piranha III varients have a second crewman directly behind the drive and access to the rear compartment.

The eight wheel drive versions of the Piranha series are known for there smooth ride, even in rough terrian. The Stryker on the other hand has had it's suspention lightened in order to save weigh, giving it a rough ride and causing extreme tire wear.


Stryker MGS

The Stryker MGS, The Wrong Gun on the Wrong Chassis

The biggest strike out for the Stryker IAV program has to be the Stryker MGS (Mobile Gun System), the vehicle that is to be the Styker Brigade's heavy hitter. Along with it being considerably over weight, it is too tall to be flown on a C-130 in 'roll-on-roll-off' condition. The tires have to be deflated for it to fit. This precludes the use of less vulnerable all rubber tires. Such tires are commonly used on Marine LAV-25s when deployed to hostile areas, as they can't simply be 'shot out' like regular inflatable tires. So now the vehicle is too tall, as well as being too wide and too heavy to meet the US Air Force's safety standards for the C-130. No version of the Stryker can fly on a C-130 without a waiver, combat loaded or for distances greater then 200 miles.

On top of this, the 105mm M68 gun can not fire while on the move. The recoil from the weapons is too great. Also it is questionable if the gun can fire in any direction other then the forward ninty degrees. The problem is that the M68 gun, a licensed copy of the British L7, was never designed to fire from a chassis as light as the Strykers. The L7 was first mounted on the 52 ton Centurion Mk 13 main battle tank. The first M68 was likewise mounted on the 53 ton M60 Patton MBT. The M68 was also the gun of the orginal M1 Abrams before it was replaced by a 120mm gun on the M1A1.

This is not to say there aren't 105mm guns out there that couldn't be mounted on such a light chassis, there are. Many even fire standard NATO ammo, with equal effect as the M68 gun. The reason none of these were fitted is because when General Dynamics, the builder of the Strykers, bought the company that made turret design for the Stryker MGS they didn't spend the time to look for a gun with less recoil force. Neither the US Army, nor General Dynamics seem to understand that the 'low silhouette' turret is anything but low. It just means the gun system is exposed. A there turret with a 105mm howitzer mounted on the same LAV-III/Stryker chassis that is lower then that of the Mobile Gun System.

One of the worst things about the Stryker MGS is the US Army and General Dynamics insults our intellegence by saying what a novel concept it is. There are at least a dozel 6x6 or 8x8 wheeled vehicles around the world that mount a 105mm tank gun. It isn't even a new concept for the US Military as the Marines tried to develop one over a decade ago, only to be cancelled by Cheney and Rumsfeld in 1992. Funds were made available in 1993 and the prototypes were finished, however program had been effectively killed. The LAV-105 would have been 5 tons lighter then the Stryker MGS, meaning not only could it easily fit the weight requirements for the C-130, it could be lifted by a CH-53E Super Stallion, the Marine Corps heavy lift helicopter. The LAV-105 was also narrow and short enough to fit the C-130's safety standards. It also mounted the M35 low recoil force cannon, the same gun as the M8 Ridgeway airborne tank and had the same engine as the M113A3.

The US Marines could have had a 105mm gun system based on the LAV-25 chassis over a decade ago

How about some other 105mm carrying wheeled vehicles vehicles.

LAV-600

An alternative to the Stryker, the LAV-600

The LAV-600 first appeared in the mid-80s. It is based on the automotive components of Textron MLS' (fromerly Cadillac Gage) LAV-300, with the hull roof lowered and Stringray I turret installed. Currently it is being offered for sale, and the Stingray II turret, with the lastest fire control equipment, would be on the production model. On of the unique features of the LAV-600 is it's hydralic suspension. This allows the ground clearence to be raised or lowered depending on the needs.


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