Made-in-London military armour is getting a lot more firepower.
Some Stryker light armoured vehicles, a mainstay of the U.S. army, are being equipped with a 30-millimetre cannon and anti-tank missiles as the army beefs up its ground forces in Europe.
Called “upgunning” in military parlance, the changes aim to boost the vehicles’ “lethality” as they face a growing role in Europe, said Col. Glenn Dean, project manager for the Stryker combat team.
“This need became increasingly evident to the army given increased aggression in that region against a backdrop of limited U.S. armoured forces remaining in Europe,” Dean said by email, adding the new Strykers will be know as “Dragoons.”
The 2nd Calvary Regiment and its 81 Strykers will offer direct fire support to infantry, he added.
The new 30 mm cannon can be fired from within the vehicle using a remote weapons station and will first deploy with the European-based 2nd Cavalry on Stryker infantry carrier vehicles.
From the time the program, known as the Stryker lethality program, was funded to first prototype delivery was only 15 months, Dean said.
“Not only does this provide improved firepower, it also enhances vehicle survivability by providing standoff against potential threat weapons,” he said.
As to why this is happening, military publications point to a “fast-changing global threat scenario, which includes the emergence of Russian aggression and accelerated Chinese military modernization — along with rapid global proliferation of attack drones and longer-range precision-guided weapons,” said an article on the website nationalinterest.org.
The 30 mm cannon can be used to counter unmanned military drones, a growing threat in battle. It will feature “airburst” technology, meaning its rounds can detonate near a target and cause damage.
“The new weapons are designed to support infantry units on the move in major combat, assist ground formations in armoured warfare, identify and destroy ground and air threats from greater standoff ranges and better enable the army to succeed,” said an article on Scout Warrior, a military news website.
Stryker armoured vehicles are born in London, before being sent to other General Dynamics plants in the U.S. for final assembly of several variants, from troop carriers and ambulances to mobile gun systems.
The program will see some work land in London, with suspensions for the armour being done here. It is not known yet whether GDLS will hire more workers as a result of the U.S. army program, said Doug Wilson-Hodge, spokesperson for GDLS Canada on Oxford Street.
As for where other work will be done, the Dragoon infantry carrier vehicle is assembled by General Dynamics Land Systems in Anniston, Ala., with the turret supplied by Kongsberg Defence in Johnstown, Pa. Work on other variants will be done at GDLS plants in Mesa, Ariz., and Lima, Ohio.
The program was approved in 2015 and the U.S. military has been testing and evaluating equipped Stryker prototypes in Maryland since January, with field and final testing set to begin in January.
The army aims to see the entire 81-vehicle brigade deployed in Poland and Germany next year.
“Army weapons developers are looking to harvest key insights from the current effort and are already looking far beyond equipping Stryker units in Europe toward a larger-scale, fleet-wide upgrade,” nationalinterest.org reported.