In The Media

U.S. military looking to beef up its made-in-London Stryker armoured vehicle fleet

by Norman DeBono (feat. David Perry)

London Free Press
March 13, 2016

London’s homemade armour may be in for a major and lethal upgrade.

The U.S. military is looking to beef up its Stryker armoured vehicle fleet, made in London, because it’s taking on a new critical role in the U.S. defence sector.

“It shows the flexibility of the platform to be adaptive, reflective of military thinking now,” considering it has been in service since 2002, said David Perry, a senior analyst at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

“These are innovative ways to use an existing model, to adapt, instead of going through a lengthy process of tendering for a new vehicle system.”

The U.S. Army uses about 10 different versions of the Stryker. In Iraq, the vehicle was used mainly for reconnaissance and troop movement. Now the Stryker is being contemplated for a greater role to counter the Russian threat in the Ukraine.

“There is a concern now in Eastern Europe,” Perry said. “All NATO forces in Europe are seized with every aspect of warfare in all domains, given Russian activities the last year or two.”

It is thought the Stryker will bolster NATO forces that are not well equipped to counter the Russian threat.

Replacing a machine gun with a cannon is among the upgrades being considered by the U.S. Army.

The cannon would provide fire support for infantry in combat.

“The next round of upgrades is intended to improve the lethality of the Stryker formation, so it’s important to find solutions that work well in concert, and go beyond just making an individual vehicle more lethal,” Col. Glenn Dean, the army’s project manager for the Stryker Brigade Combat Team, said in a statement on the official homepage of the U.S. Army.

The army also is surveying defence industries for ideas of what else can be added to the Stryker to make it a more deadly threat.

Reports from other military publications in the U.S. say the army wants the cannon — lethal enough to take out an opposing light armoured vehicle — on about half of its Stryker fleet.

The other half would have the Javelin missile, to counter heavier tank armour. The army also wants to upgrade sights and sensors for all Strykers.

The initiative illustrates how the vehicle made at General Dynamics Land Systems Canada on Oxford Street has become a staple for U.S. defence, Perry said.

“It will use the same platform,” he said of installing a cannon turret on the Stryker.

“They will take the existing (Stryker) and modify it, to keep it going.”

General Dynamics officials declined comment on the reports and what the impact would be locally at the manufacturer that employs more than 2,200 workers in London.

In the past, when Strykers were being used in Iraq and armour was added to them, teams from London travelled to the Middle East to do the work there.

In July, the European-based second calvary regiment, with 81 Strykers, was approved for the 30 mm cannon and an unmanned turret at a cost of $411 million and that is now being seen as a precursor to beef up the entire Stryker fleet.

The website breakingdefense.com puts the cost of the upgrade at about $4.5 million per vehicle.

Budget constraints are pushing the army to use existing technology such as the Stryker, in new roles rather than develop new weaponry, because it is less costly to modify an existing weapon system.

“The team is particularly interested in enhancements that are readily available, such as commercial-off-the-shelf, as well as technologies that will be available in the near-term,” Dean said. “We really want to identify technologies and potential contributors that we haven’t specifically looked at yet.”  

The Stryker story

  • The Stryker entered service with the U.S. army in 2002.
  • Previous upgrades to the fleet have focused largely on improving armour to resist roadside bomb attacks.
  • General Dynamics in London was first awarded the contract in 2000 for 2,131 vehicles. More than 4,800 have been manufactured.
  • Although work is done on the vehicles at other General Dynamics plants in the U.S, when it is converted for other uses, every hull is cast in London and many return here for final assembly.
  • A Stryker cost about $1.5 million US when it first rolled off the line in 2002. By 2012 it rose to $4.9M.

Upgrades

  • The U.S. Army wants to make the Stryker armoured fighting vehicle more lethal. The additions being considered are:
  • A 30-mm quick-firing cannon (it now has a 12.7 mm machine gun)
  • Javelin anti-tank missile
  • Mobile anti-aircraft capability, also 30 mm cannon

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