Warning

 

Close

Confirm Action

Are you sure you wish to do this?

Confirm Cancel
Member Login

Site Notices
Posted: 5/3/2004 3:02:08 PM EST
Chinks in Our Armor
The Army's chief weapons tester said Strykers were not safe against RPGs. Then the Army shipped them to Iraq

By Michael Hirsh
Newsweek

May 10 issue - Tom Christie was worried. It was the fall of 2003, and the Pentagon's chief weapons tester had noted problems with the Army's pride and joy, the new Stryker Armored Vehicle. The $4 billion program was seen as the vanguard of the lighter, high-speed Army of the future. But even with new add-on armor, the Stryker "did not meet Army requirements" against rocket-propelled grenades in tests, Christie wrote in his 2003 annual report. Now the Pentagon was about to deploy the first 300 Strykers to Iraq while an insurgency raged.

advertisement

So Christie did something unusual: he sent a classified letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's office urging the military to be very cautious about where in Iraq it deployed the Stryker. The response? "I was slapped down," says the straight-talking Christie. "It was: 'What are we supposed to do with this [letter]? ... Are you trying to embarrass somebody?' "

There may be embarrassment to come. Six months after that exchange, the fighting in Iraq has called into question not only the Stryker's effectiveness but the Army's shift toward a lighter, faster infantry. With a record 138 U.S. soldiers dead in April, some inside the Pentagon are asking why the Army spent billions on new wheeled vehicles like the Stryker when commanders in the field are crying out for old-style treaded vehicles—tanks and personnel carriers—that are better protected and armed.

Many soldiers killed and wounded in Iraq were traveling in thin-skinned Humvees, which ride on rubber tires like the Stryker. Meanwhile, thousands of M113 armored personnel carriers, which are treaded and better armed, sit in mothballs around the world, even next door in Kuwait. That reflects an Army bias that has been prevalent since 1999, when the then Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki—who was frustrated by slow-moving U.S. armor in the Balkans—declared his preference for wheels. But treaded personnel carriers can better bear the weight of the big-caliber guns and armor needed to defeat insurgents and defend against IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and rocket-propelled grenades; Strykers are mounted with only machine guns or grenade launchers. (A new version with a 105mm cannon is months away, says General Dynamics, its manufacturer.) And now "tanks and armored personnel carriers are what commanders are looking for," Capt. Bruce Frame of CENTCOM told NEWSWEEK.

Still, entrenched interests die hard. So eager were some Army brass to push the Stryker, critics say, that they paid three times as much for it as the competing bid and lowered its performance requirements whenever it failed testing. And even though the Stryker is largely untried, Gen. Larry Ellis of Army Forces Command sent a March 30 memo to the chief of staff asking for more money for the program as far ahead as fiscal year 2008-09. More funding for Strykers is so "imperative," Ellis wrote, that money might have to be diverted from a program to refurbish Bradley fighting vehicles, the armored, treaded carriers that many soldiers see as the star performer in Iraq. That suggestion raised hackles among track advocates inside the Pentagon. Army spokesman Maj. Gary Tallman said last Friday there is "no plan at this time to buy more Strykers."

Tallman insists the faster, quieter Stryker is performing ably in Iraq, with only two vehicles lost so far. Each has an additional $500,000 worth of armor around it, including ceramic tiles and an unwieldy cage that some liken to a Rube Goldberg device. Still, the Strykers have been kept from most of the heavy fighting, and they don't seem able to carry the weight of state-of-the-art "reactive armor." Tallman adds that the Army is still undecided about whether its "future combat system" will be wheeled or treaded. What happens in Iraq, he adds, will "undoubtedly" influence that debate.

© 2004 Newsweek, Inc.
Link Posted: 5/3/2004 6:24:51 PM EST
That article is pure crap. What armored vehicles are RPG and IED-proof? None are. The reports I am getting (all second-hand) are that the Stryker is doing really well. Not because it is RPG-proof (it has a 95-percent defense with the cage) but because of the command-control-intel electronics equipment onboard. RPGs can penetrate an M-113 and a Bradley and even an M-1 tank on rare occasions. We have had three Strykers damaged and one destroyed, and one crewman lightly wounded total. If I were there I would be glad to ride a Stryker.

GunLvr

Link Posted: 5/3/2004 8:00:19 PM EST
Right on GunLvrPHD, even some M-1s took mobility kills due to RPGs. And I am sure the thin skin on the top of the turret would not protect against a solid hit either. There has yet to be a "kill-proof" vehicle.
Link Posted: 5/3/2004 8:23:15 PM EST
I dont think there has been anyone killed inside a stryker yet and several have been taken out be IEDs and RPGS so crew survivability seems to be pretty good. I think once they get everything working the Stryker will be a good taxi but i dont see the mobile gun system version doing to well for that role i think they should have stuck with the M8.
Link Posted: 5/3/2004 8:37:18 PM EST
Remember they bitched about the Bradley and the M1 when they both came out. Its amazing how the bitchers dry up once they vehicles are proven.
Link Posted: 5/3/2004 10:59:19 PM EST
I remember back in th 80's, the usual suspects (20/20 and 60 Minutes) ran segments criticizing the Bradley, as did the LA Times, NY Times, etc. "It's a deathtrap -- if it gets hit everyone will die. To expensive, too complicated, blah blah blah."

Now what are they saying?
Link Posted: 5/3/2004 11:07:37 PM EST
mattja: The news media are no more qualified to speak about the assault weapons, Strykers or anything else that is at least a little, itty-bitty technical. I have lost confidence in the news media after their ranting and raving about assualt weapons.
Link Posted: 5/3/2004 11:12:35 PM EST

Originally Posted By mattja:
I remember back in th 80's, the usual suspects (20/20 and 60 Minutes) ran segments criticizing the Bradley, as did the LA Times, NY Times, etc. "It's a deathtrap -- if it gets hit everyone will die. To expensive, too complicated, blah blah blah."

Now what are they saying?

They're saying that the Block 2 up-armored Bradley is a LOT better.
Link Posted: 5/3/2004 11:30:10 PM EST
Link Posted: 5/3/2004 11:37:18 PM EST
"Keep in mind that lack of military funding during the Klinton years really hurt programs like the Stryker"
Yup! ...thanks for nuthin Bill
Link Posted: 5/3/2004 11:48:03 PM EST
I haven't heard bad things about them. I think the only soldiers killed inside of a Stryker were because one rolled over into a river and they drowned.

James
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 7:59:44 AM EST
Wasnt there some movie made about the developement of the Stryker or Bradley? It was a comedy I think but rooted in truth.
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 8:17:37 AM EST
Personally, if I had to go for a ride in a war zone, I'd rather be in a Bradley, thank you.
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 8:37:53 AM EST

Originally Posted By captainpooby:
Wasnt there some movie made about the developement of the Stryker or Bradley? It was a comedy I think but rooted in truth.



Don't recall the name of it, but I remember that it starred Kelsey Grammar.
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 8:45:56 AM EST

Originally Posted By W_smith:
Chinks in Our Armor





That is a racist statement if I ever heard one.


Link Posted: 5/4/2004 9:27:35 AM EST

Originally Posted By warlord:
mattja: The news media are no more qualified to speak about the assault weapons, Strykers or anything else that is at least a little, itty-bitty technical. I have lost confidence in the news media after their ranting and raving about assualt weapons.



There have been 2 or 3 times in my life that I had direct knowledge of an event or was directly involved in an event reported by the media, and every time the media got the story wrong. And not just a little wrong, but fundamentally wrong. Others have said the same.

I have to assume that virtually every story the media reports is probably wrong.
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 10:28:54 AM EST
Reality time… let's look at this sensibly, go to war in a Humvee or a Styker?… what's the issue? A jumped up jeep or a half decent armored APC? Seems to me that a lot of the media generals think only full tracks cut the mustard. What do they know? I expect some of them reckon lets put everybody back in duce and a halfs! Yeah, that way the open truck will dissipate the RPG blast… hopeless against bullets tho.

Stryker is an LAV… LIGHT Armored Vehicle, light forces, recon and stuff…just like it says on the packet.
Bradley is a MICV, Mechanised Infantry COMBAT vehicle, heavy armored so it can stay up with and fight with the big guys…just like it says on the packet.
Both have different purposes, and both are good at their DESIGNED purpose.

Stykers were never designed to get in a 'stand up' fight, that's the Bradleys job.

Andy
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 10:31:53 AM EST

Originally Posted By JohnnyEgo:

Originally Posted By captainpooby:
Wasnt there some movie made about the developement of the Stryker or Bradley? It was a comedy I think but rooted in truth.



Don't recall the name of it, but I remember that it starred Kelsey Grammar.



"The Pentagon Wars"

Moral of the story: When you shoot a non-tank with a tank, don't expect miracles.
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 10:48:39 AM EST

Originally Posted By james-t-andrews:
I haven't heard bad things about them. I think the only soldiers killed inside of a Stryker were because one rolled over into a river and they drowned.

James



i work with a lady whose husband is a stryker commander. one of his soldiers was killed the other day(i don't know what happened, nor if he was inside the stryker at the time) and he was injured by a grenade about 2 weeks ago. i don't know if he was in the stryker at the time, or if the grenade incident was the one that killed the other soldier. she didn't seem real happy about the whole situation(he waited 2 weeks to tell her about it) so i didn't press for more details.

about a year ago i was talking to him and he was telling me about a live fire exercise they were doing. apparently a 5.56 went in one side and out the other on his stryker. don't know why someone was shooting at him though
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 10:54:47 AM EST
The Bradleys and M1s were inappropriate for many of the missions the army was doing after the fall of Baghdad. If you're going out on a raid to arrest bad guys you don't always want a noisy track to come along with you.
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 10:57:53 AM EST
Stiker?!

i don't think so. those dang canadians with their beady little eyes and flapping heads are usually up to no good.


oh, you meant Stryker the vehicle.......

never mind

mike
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 11:06:32 AM EST
[Last Edit: 5/4/2004 11:08:45 AM EST by ArmdLbrl]
The article is correct. The Stryker is a waste. The electronics and RPG proof armor could have been added to the M113 for a fraction of the cost of the Stryker.

The rail armor the Strykers are wearing now originally appeared in Vietnam on Navy riverine gunboats and WAS fitted to both M113's and LVTP-5's on a localized basis back then.

That the Stryker works right now is that what they want is a armored truck, and thats what the Stryker is, a armored truck.

It has not been asked to operate off road. Also at its current fit of 23 tons it can no longer be considered a "light" armored vheicle.

But the Army has had to make a request formore M1 tanks in Iraq. Because they are the only vheicles that can survive IEDs made from 152-155mm artillery shells.

Sources in Iraq say that the Styker Brigade from the 2nd ID has been removed from the Najaf/Al Kut area, where they were among the first to face the al Sadr army, to convoy duty in the south, running between Basra and the Kuwait border and the cities in the river valleys.

We spent all those millions for a convoy escort vheicle? We could put rubber band tracks on a M113 for way less and do this OR we could buy Ratels off the shelf from South Africa for such a narrow use.
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 11:07:25 AM EST
I know the Army flat-out faked the armor tests when it was being developed.
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 11:14:42 AM EST
From what I heard, the latest, greatest updates to the M113(A4?) could've out-performed the Stryker in a heartbeat. Can't provide sources, as I don't recall where I saw the articles.
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 11:18:46 AM EST
Probably United Defense's own webiste.

While they were pawning the Stryker off on us they sold Canada streatched M113's with 400 horsepower engines and rubber band tracks.
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 12:15:07 PM EST
[Last Edit: 5/4/2004 12:17:34 PM EST by vito113]
The British looked hard at Wheeled APC's and walked away due the the inability to carry sufficient armour. The Brit Warrior MICV with it's reactive armor is able to shrug off RPG's and lighter tank rounds but weighs in at 45 tons. The Stryker is stuck in a halfway hose between an armoured truck concept, cheap and cheerful, and a full on MICV. As long the military accept it is only a light armor vehicle, no worries. But, General being Generals will try and use them as el Cheapo MICV, which they are not.

Andy
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 12:16:35 PM EST
What we have here is a number of bright people who thought they could have it both ways.
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 12:21:10 PM EST
[Last Edit: 5/4/2004 12:22:36 PM EST by vito113]

Originally Posted By Wobblin-Goblin:
What we have here is a number of bright people who thought they could have it both ways.



Ah yes, good old 'capability creep'

… You don't need 'X' when our ACME El Cheapo can do 90% of the mission for 30% of the price!…

… trouble is it always ends up as 30% of the mission for 90% of the price.

the Accountants fall for it every time. .
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 2:00:53 PM EST

Originally Posted By vito113:
The British looked hard at Wheeled APC's and walked away due the the inability to carry sufficient armour. The Brit Warrior MICV with it's reactive armor is able to shrug off RPG's and lighter tank rounds but weighs in at 45 tons. The Stryker is stuck in a halfway hose between an armoured truck concept, cheap and cheerful, and a full on MICV. As long the military accept it is only a light armor vehicle, no worries. But, General being Generals will try and use them as el Cheapo MICV, which they are not.

Andy



Really its the price. Thats the real killer is the amount we are paying for a armored truck and what it draws away from actual manuver elements. A upgraded M113 would not be any better in firepower or armor protection than these Upgraded Strykers but it would have far better cross country ability and cost a whole lot less, so we could afford a lot more of them. And because they would be based on chassies already in store, we could get them a lot faster too. If we really need a wheeled armored truck we could buy or lease Rattels off of South Africa for a few hundred thousand each- with their own cutbacks and reorganizations SA has a lot of them in store too.
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 2:15:38 PM EST
I think the updated M113s and more Bradleys would have been money better spent.
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 2:20:29 PM EST
What is the current ticket price for a Stryker?

Andy
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 2:42:38 PM EST
[Last Edit: 5/4/2004 2:51:12 PM EST by ArmdLbrl]

Originally Posted By Wobblin-Goblin:
I think the updated M113s and more Bradleys would have been money better spent.



The real loser is actually not getting any attention. Its the US Armys Light Infantry units. They are being found to not be worth a damn even in the areas they were supposedly DESIGNED to fight in. Cities and mountains. The paradigm used to create them was wrong, and now we are scurrying to find armored vheicles to mount them on at great expense. Also the power of light anti-armor weapons was underestimated. Not so much the individual penetrating power but the implications of facing a enemy where as many as a 1in5 to 1in4 carries a RPG with pleanty of ammo.

Not only did they therefore underestimate the need for Armor but they also underestimated how heavy and sophisticated those armored vheicles would have to be, not to resist a state of the art Russian heavy ATGW, but RPGs fired in volleys of a half dozen rounds or more directed at ONE vheicle. Also they underestimated the number and size of the IEDs. IEDs containg explosives in the hundreds of pounds or multiple heavy artillery shells- 152 or 155mm shells or 120-160mm mortar bombs. Bradleys and Warriors are often destroyed by such things. And even M1s damaged or mobility killed, often with crew injuries.

Not only is the need for armor underestmated but how heavy even the "light" armor would have to be was underestimated. A fully upgraded M113 would be better than the Stryker because it would be available in much greater numbers for much less money but even it would be only a "entry level" vheicle for Iraq duty. Barely adaquate for most tasks but not ideal. It would be a good replacement for the M1114 Heavy Armored Humvee and M1026 Weapons Carrier but would never be a Bradley substitute.

Of course other areas besides Iraq have to be considered for the future. Stryker was supposed to be the center piece of new Rapid Deployment Forces. Having been modified to survive in the real world in Iraq they are now too heavy to be rapidly deployed by air like their original specification demanded. But even with 4 tons of new armor and electronics added a M113 would still fly better. The difference being the M113 having a smaller foot print and less weight than the Stryker precisely because the M113 is not a wheeled vheicle. Not having the 8 wheel drive driveline and suspension saves about 4 tons and allows a much lower vehicle with much better internal space for a smaller outside package. A M113A3 with the Strykers electronics and armor would weigh about the same as a Stryker with just its basic hull armor as it rolled off the assembly line.

"Heavy" divisons should have M1A2 and M2/3A3
"Light" divisons should have M113A3 and M8 AGS (they can keep the Stryker brigade orginazation though. 48 man platoons with 40 dismounts are a very GOOD thing)
Even the 82nd and 101st and the 173rd Brigade should have ONE M113A3 equipped battalion per brigade at least (they can always dismount) and they also should have at least one battalion of M8 light tanks for each division. The M113A3 can be paradropped, though it has never been used as such in combat, and the M8 was designed to replace the Sheridan so it definently can be air dropped.

The 3rd ACR should stay with M1A2/M3A2 but 2nd ACR shoud switch to M113A3 and M8 light tanks.
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 3:08:47 PM EST

Originally Posted By vito113:
What is the current ticket price for a Stryker?

Andy



$3.3 Million each
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 5:08:32 PM EST
M113A3





According to the Army's own website, there are thousands of A3s in service.
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 5:26:31 PM EST
It looks to me like the Stryker had mission creep.

It is a very expensive armored truck. I wonder if the old Vietnam guntrucks would have been a better idea.
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 5:33:00 PM EST
[Last Edit: 5/4/2004 5:36:58 PM EST by Kharn]
Isnt one of the biggest costs of the Stryker its electronics package?
The electronics are amazing from what I've seen in the literature, every stryker location is transmitted to all other strykers, so every vehicle commander can see where all the friendly strykers are on his map display.

Kharn
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 5:35:31 PM EST

Originally Posted By SS109:
It looks to me like the Stryker had mission creep.

It is a very expensive armored truck. I wonder if the old Vietnam guntrucks would have been a better idea.



You should see the cobbled togeather stuff they have over there. It looks suspiciously like the Vietnam gun trucks.

Of course the gun trucks in Vietnam only existed because the goverment back then REFUSED to supply tank and armored infantry units the theater commanders requested!!
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 5:37:30 PM EST
[Last Edit: 5/4/2004 5:43:32 PM EST by ArmdLbrl]

Originally Posted By Kharn:
Isnt one of the biggest costs of the Stryker its electronics package?

Kharn



Nope. The electronics package is mostly the same as the M2/3A3. Just a few extra displays for the extra dismounts. The remote gunmounts were purchased from a inexperienced US contractor and had lots of bugs when first delivered. A demand to increase the US manufactured content of the vheicle forced them to not used the combat tested remote weapons stations built by Rafael in Israel that are fittted to the Actzerit heavy APC and some Israeli M113's.
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 5:38:51 PM EST
The Bradley is one bad mofo. A platoon of those in Mogadishu (along with just ONE Spectre) would've made a world of difference.

As usual, our men on the ground paid for decision not to send them over.
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 5:51:13 PM EST
Yes the Brad is bad but you pay for it in its weight. A C-17 can only carry two, and we only have two HSVs that can only carry about a company a piece by sea at speed. They do 40 knts though, or ten days from San Diego to Kuwait City.

A Stryker now costs as much as the more capable and safer Brad does.

You could refit as many as SIX M113A3's to the Strykers relative level of protection, communications ability, and night vision for the cost of one Stryker. Most of the equipment is on the shelf already. The new engine, gearbox, and tracks are already built for Canada; the IDF already paied for the armor upgrades and remote gun mounts; the electronics suit with SINCGARS and IVIS is already found in the M2/3A3 Bradley
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 5:54:29 PM EST
TFR was in Somalia for what, two months? Ten days from when they touched down isn't so bad.

That's what they wanted: Armor.
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 6:09:25 PM EST

Originally Posted By Wobblin-Goblin:
TFR was in Somalia for what, two months? Ten days from when they touched down isn't so bad.

That's what they wanted: Armor.



The small amount of armor they needed could be flown. Maybe a company of mech inf and a platoon of M1's. A infantry heavy company combat team.
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 6:36:34 PM EST

Originally Posted By sherm8404:

Originally Posted By W_smith:
Chinks in Our Armor





That is a racist statement if I ever heard one.





lol
Link Posted: 5/5/2004 7:01:29 AM EST

Originally Posted By ArmdLbrl:
Sources in Iraq say that the Styker Brigade from the 2nd ID has been removed from the Najaf/Al Kut area, where they were among the first to face the al Sadr army, to convoy duty in the south, running between Basra and the Kuwait border and the cities in the river valleys.

We spent all those millions for a convoy escort vheicle? We could put rubber band tracks on a M113 for way less and do this OR we could buy Ratels off the shelf from South Africa for such a narrow use.



Two things here. I have heard very different things about the Stryker Brigade. They were up around Mosul in early April but drove down to Kut and other Shia cities south of Bagdhad and retook all of them but Najaf. They have since returned to Mosul. We need these sorts of units--which can move across hundreds of miles in a few hours--in a place like Iraq.

The big advantages of the Stryker of the interior size, the speed, and the electronics.

Second, we do need good convoy escort vehicles.

GunLvr
Link Posted: 5/5/2004 7:29:27 AM EST

Originally Posted By Kharn:
Isnt one of the biggest costs of the Stryker its electronics package?
The electronics are amazing from what I've seen in the literature, every stryker location is transmitted to all other strykers, so every vehicle commander can see where all the friendly strykers are on his map display.

Kharn



That originated in the latest Abrams & Bradley variants... It was merely applied to the Stryker as a matter of course...

IMHO, anything with air-filled rubber tires makes for a PATHETIC combat vehicle...

One PKM crew should be able to shut that thing down, just blow out the tires...
Link Posted: 5/5/2004 12:59:49 PM EST

Originally Posted By ArmdLbrl:

Originally Posted By vito113:
What is the current ticket price for a Stryker?

Andy



$3.3 Million each



Makes an upgraded M113 a real bargain…

Andy
Link Posted: 5/5/2004 7:56:48 PM EST

Originally Posted By GunLvrPHD:

Originally Posted By ArmdLbrl:
Sources in Iraq say that the Styker Brigade from the 2nd ID has been removed from the Najaf/Al Kut area, where they were among the first to face the al Sadr army, to convoy duty in the south, running between Basra and the Kuwait border and the cities in the river valleys.

We spent all those millions for a convoy escort vheicle? We could put rubber band tracks on a M113 for way less and do this OR we could buy Ratels off the shelf from South Africa for such a narrow use.



Two things here. I have heard very different things about the Stryker Brigade. They were up around Mosul in early April but drove down to Kut and other Shia cities south of Bagdhad and retook all of them but Najaf. They have since returned to Mosul. We need these sorts of units--which can move across hundreds of miles in a few hours--in a place like Iraq.

The big advantages of the Stryker of the interior size, the speed, and the electronics.

Second, we do need good convoy escort vehicles.

GunLvr



Not for 3.3 Million a piece we don't. A M113 with the rubber tracks (to reduce maintainance requirements when putting that many miles on it) could do the job for much less and actually be usable in the next war. So could buying some used armored cars off of South Africa for a few tens of thousands each and disposing of them afterward by GIVING them to Iraq.
Link Posted: 5/5/2004 9:35:49 PM EST
Looks like it is time for us to start developing Mobile Infantry.

(Starship Troopers-style).
(Yes, I mean the BOOK, not the MOVIE).
Link Posted: 5/5/2004 9:41:47 PM EST
Well we are trying the power armor thing. But its a fur piece off. It also might make the soldier/Marine too BIG to fit INSIDE buildings out there in the third world. Nonetheless being 9ft tall and being able to lift a ton does have its uses...

You would also be looking, conservatively, at $1 Million PER SOLDIER. But we would be getting new capability with that new vheicle. We have not gained any new capability with the Stryker, for all that money spent.
Link Posted: 5/5/2004 10:45:10 PM EST

Originally Posted By sherm8404:

Originally Posted By W_smith:
Chinks in Our Armor





That is a racist statement if I ever heard one.





Hahaha hey that reminds me of the time... back in the mid 90s a friend of mine got a portable DAT tape player. The amount of stuff crammed in there was pretty impressive. We listened to a tape he made of just himself jabbering when he first got it, he was inspecting it and might have had the cover off, and he says "How do those slanty eyed motherf-ers fit it all in there???"
Top Top