Stryker armored fighting vehicle family
The Stryker armored fighting vehicles family is made up of eight-wheeled combat vehicles used by the U.S. Army, specifically intended to be light enough to be transported in the C-130 Hercules aircraft and maneuverable for urban combat. Fast deployability -- strategic mobility -- was one of the key aspects of the Restructuring of the United States Army championed by General Eric Shinseki while he was Chief of Staff of the Army.
Shinseki became especially concerned with deployment problems when the Army could not send its heavy forces quickly to Kosovo, and its light forces were too light for the mission. The Stryker approach defined a middle tier of force that balances strategic mobility, battlefield firepower and protection, and tactical mobility. Some of the compromises are controversial, especially strategic mobility.
They are a derivative of the U.S. Marine Corps LAV III, which was developed by General Dynamics Land Systems (US and Canada) from the Swiss Mowag vehicle.
Ten variants are operational in Stryker Brigade Combat Teams:
- M1126 infantry carrier vehicle (ICV)
- M1127 reconnaissance vehicle (RV)
- M1128 mobile gun system (MGS)
- M1129 mortar carrier (MC)
- M1130 command vehicle (CV)
- M1131 fire support vehicle (FSV)
- M1132 engineer squad vehicle (ESV)
- M1133 medical evacuation vehicle (MEV)
- M1134 anti-tank guided missile (ATGM)
- M1135 nuclear, biological, chemical reconnaissance vehicle (NBC RV) (also in the Heavy Brigade Combat Team)
Weighing 19 to 26 tons, a typical vehicle is 10 feet high (excluding antennas), 9.5 feet wide and 24 feet long. Its armor can be upgraded at some loss in mobility, but the basic level is proof against direct fire from 14.5mm heavy machine guns and overhead fragments from 152mm blast-fragmentation cells.
Angled slats on the side deflect light antitank weapons using shaped charges. These can be replaced with reactive armor capable of withstanding direct hit from an RPG-7; the slat armor would be retained when working closely with dismounted infantry who would be injured by reactive armore fragments.
As of 2010, Stryker vehicles rotating back to the United States will be modified to have a more survivable double-V hull design, similar to that on the MRAP.
They are fully digitized, using the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below command and control system, which is part of the Blue Force Tracker network, and have numerous radios and navigation devices.
In 2004, the General Accounting Office reported "Although the Army has demonstrated the required transportability of Strykers by C-130s during training events, the C-130 has a limited capability to transport the Stryker vehicle in an operational environment except under favorable conditions. " The 38,000 pound weight of a basic Stryker is at the high end of the capability of the C-130, specifically one in which range must be traded against payload. Maximum normal payload for the C-130H and J models is 36,000 pounds.
That weight is of the basic vehicle, not crew, ammunition, fuel, or specialized systems. Under ideal conditions, a C-130H can fly 860 miles with a 38,000 pound load, but its range drops to 500 miles when 2,000 pounds (e.g., ammunition) are added. Ideal conditions include temperature and elevation. A C-130H with a 38,000 pound load cannot take off at all in parts of Afghanistan during the summer.
Strykers are also close to the dimensional maximums of a C-130. When either the slat or reactive armor is attached, the vehicles will not fit inside the C-130 fuselage. The armor can be attached relatively quickly, but a design goal had been that the Strykers could roll from the aircraft into battle. 
|Cargo weight (pounds)||Ideal range (miles)|
The situation improves somewhat with the C-130J.
- Stuart S. Stryker, U.S. Army
- Robert Stryker, U.S. Army
- Fielding of Army’s Stryker Vehicles Is Well Under Way, but Expectations for Their Transportability by C-130 Aircraft Need to Be Clarified, General Accountability Office, August 2004, GAO-04-925, p. 4