Up-Gunning Stryker, And Light Tank Potentially In The Works

stryker_1

Lately, the Army has been making many smart moves. Following this trend, another potentially smart move is in the works. Stryker program officials, working with Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) are developing a plan to fit a 30mm cannon, on a remote weapons station, to the Stryker infantry carrier.  This change would allow greater firepower, without an internal space restriction due to use of a remote weapons station. The driving force behind this effort comes after years of study, focusing on combat actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. The name of the game is firepower overmatch, which lends itself to freedom of maneuver.

Some may wonder why interest is aimed at a 30mm, instead of the 25mm Bushmaster used on the Bradley. Limitations were discovered on the 25mm, when employed against certain structures. Many will look at this as a simple 5mm difference, which is an overly simplistic way of viewing this. Instead, they should view this as the percentage of increase in diameter, and the increase in round volume, as this is an exponential function. To simply things further, you get rounds that are much larger, with only a modest decrease in muzzle velocity.

Overall, I see this as a very intelligent move, and one that allows the Army to make the most of a platform already in service. Current budget trends mean the highest level of functionality and lethality must be found, at the lowest price point possible.

Amy officials are also seeking to address a capability gap. To address this capability gap, Army leaders are lobbying for an air droppable light tank. This is a capability gap that has existed, for Airborne forces, since the retirement of the M551 Sheridan in the 90’s. A solution already exists, that was never put into service.

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Army officials are interested in revisiting the M8 Armored Gun System. The AGS is a light tank, with an upgradable armor package, fitted with a 105mm main gun. Officials at Ft. Benning refer to the AGS as ‘old technology that kills T-72 tanks’.

I always liked the concept of the AGS, and hated it when it was not put into production. AGS met Army requirements in the mid 90’s, and does so today. I can see international interest in the AGS being likely as well. For any scenario in a Pacific theater gone hot, large armored forces centered around the M-1 Abrams are the wrong tool, and one that would pose more problems than they solve, on a logistics level alone. An up-gunned Stryker/AGS combo provide an excellent solution for the Pacific, while providing a much needed uptick in firepower for the US Army’s Global Response Force mission.

While its questionable if an AGS procurement program can survive, let alone thrive, in the current budgetary environment, I like the thinking. The problem I see, is the AGS might find itself competing for increasingly scarce vehicle procurement funds, which are being focused on the Ground Combat Vehicle program. If the USMC could be brought onboard, with the AGS being used as a replacement for Marine M-1’s, this might offer economies of scale that could make the program more palatable. Time will tell…

 

 

 

~ by arcturus415 on September 27, 2013.

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