M1126 ICV Stryker
The modern US Army wheeled APCThe M1126 Stryker is loosely based on the previous LAV-III, but shared very little component. The previous vehicle was mostly an USMC armoured personal carrier based on the Canadian LAV-III produced from 1983, and of which 880 entered service. As a derivative of the prolific Piranha APC family from Mowag, which "invented" the modern wheeled modular APC ten year prior, the LAV-25 differed on many points, most prominently its 25 mm M242 Chain Gun and dedicated turret. The "land shark" served in many conflicts but it's now nearing the end of its service in its initial state, pending conversion to the new modernization program, called LAV-ATM (2012).
The Army was interested by the concept, until then relying on the tracked M113A3 and M2 Bradley and much smaller HMMVW to carry troops on the battlefield. The USMC experience prompted the development of a vehicle better fitted for the post-cold war environement. The plan started in 1999, October, as General Eric Shinseki, U.S. Army Chief of Staff at that time, outlined the need for a modular, cheaper vehicle to carry troops. Called "Objective Force", it urged the army to adopt a flexible doctrine for quick, multimission deployment, a highly modular vehicle that can be tailored and equipped for a variety of operations in a short notice. The early phase called for the design of an 'Interim Armored Vehicle', filling a capability gap between IFVs such as the M2 Bradley, and light vehicles easy to deploy such as the Humvee.
The Interim Armored Vehicle (IAV) was initially supposed to be temporary until the Future Combat Systems Manned Ground Vehicles program matured enough to give a universal APC, which, of course never happened as it was canceled. As a provisional measure, the combined team of General Motors and General Dynamics were awarded a $8 billion contract in November 2000. They were asked to produce 2,131 vehicles, which were a simple variant of the Canadian LAV III. The very concrete goal was to equip six rapid deployment Brigade Combat Teams. The goal was 2008. United Defense, involved in discussion, protested about the award in December 2000, alleging their own cost was 50% inferior to the GM/GD prposal. It was examined, but rejected by the General Accounting Office in April 2001 and GM/GD proceeded quickly in the development of the new vehicle.
despite the very short timing, the "interim" vehicle was ready deployed in large quantities quie fast, prompting U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Army Paul J. Hoeper to called the IAV projecy "the best off-the-shelf equipment available in the world in this class". Nevertheless over time, comparative statistic shown the vehicle was soon to be underclassed by many international competitors. By February 2002 as production commenced, the Army renamed the IAV (Interim Armored Vehicle) "Stryker", whereas the "I" of Interim was now replaced by "Infantry". But by all measure, this vehicle was truly an APC, now built by General Dynamics Land Systems, and over 5000+ has been manufactured, nearly all for the US. Only Thailand received a few, and three others tested derivatives such as the Mobile Gun System. There were doubts about its price and capabilities, which had persisted until recently.
Design of the M1126The M1126 ICV in dimensions and general shape is basically a modernized LAV-III, corresponding to the Piranha Mark V, recoignisable to its broken nose. It is 18.16 short tons (16.47 t) and measured 22 ft 10 in (6.95 m) for a width of 8 ft 11 in (2.72 m), height of 8 ft 8 in (2.64 m). Its capacity varies among variants, but the basic APC carries two (driver and commander) plus 9 equipped soldiers. Like the LAV-25, it's a classic configuration freeing the aft compartment, modular, for all sorts of uses. The transmission is in the nose, with the driver seated on the right and engine compartment on its left.
ArmamentThe commander's post is behind, with a centrally-mounted cupola, and a remote control weapon system, called the Protector RWS, mounting either a 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 machine gun or 40 mm Mk 19 grenade launcher. See the variants for other armaments. The IFV for example (Stryker Dragoon) is given the 30 mm Mk44 Bushmaster II gun, and the M1128 tank hunter (Mobile Gun System), a 105 mm gun M68A2 gun (same as for the Abrams M1). This modular combination are thought to organically provide and perform all roles in a rapidly deployable mobile strike force, much more flexible and cheaper to deploy than classic Tracked MBTs and IFVs.
The Remote weapon system M151E2 is capable of mounting either the .50cal M2HB MG (2000 rounds in storage) or the 40mm Automatic Grenade Launcher Mk19 MOD3 (480 rounds). The traverse is electric, 360°, with a max traverse rate of 60°/sec. and an elevation of -20 to +55°. It is stabilized in azimuth and elevation, and equipped with a laser rangefinder. The commander had a thermal imager camera and the driver an AN/VAS-5 thermal sight.
ProtectionThe hull is made of high hard steel and composites, assembled by welding, 14.5 mm resistant on the frontal arc (classified RHA thickness, est. 13 cm or 0.5 inches) with provision to fix add-on armor. Vehicles deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan also were given BAR armor for urban patrols, protecting against RPGs. For active protection, they have sensors, a laser warning system, and illumination system, and six smoke projectors on the RWS. There was a basic mrotection against mines and IFVs, and from 2019, an upgrade program to make them "mine-resistant" started, called DVH (Double V Hull).
Propulsion & mobilityThe M1126 is propelled by a Caterpillar C7 350 hp (260 kW) engine, publicized as the “golden child” in Caterpillar diesel engine lineup, combining raw horsepower with computer controlled clean emissions. This Caterpillar 3126 unit is a 6-cylinder, 4-cycle inline turbocharged diesel capable of an output of 350 hp at 2500 rpm. It is coupled with an Allison MD 3066P transmission with a 6 speeds forward, 1 reverse gearbox. Steering is hydraulic, applied on both front axles. The Braking system is dual-circuit hydraulic with air-power assist and provided with an anti-lock system on the rear 3 axles.
Its Power/weight ratio for the basic APC is 19.3 hp/sh ton (15.8 kW/tonne) providing for a top speed (max) of 100 kph, and in practice around 97 kph or 60 mph. The vehicle reused the classic LAV-25 drivetrain, with a 8×8 wheeled chassis, with the first two axles are independent and last two fixed, with hydrostrut leaf spring and shock absorbers for each wheel. Its operational range is 310-330 miles (530 km) on road, down to 200 miles all terrain, thanks to a 200 liters or 53 gallons tank. It is amphibious without preparation and air-transportable, although much heavier than the LAV-25.
Ground performances are as follows:
-Level road speed 96 kp
-Trench crossing 78" or 2 meters
-Max grade climbing 60%
-Max slideslope climbing 30%
-Max vertical obstacle 23" or 58 cm
-Minimum turning diameter 52' or 16 meters
-Max fording depth 51" or 1,3 m
production of the M1126
Regular US Army M1126 ICV in green livery
US Army M1128 MGS in green livery