That’s gotta’ come down like a load of bricks

C-17 testers airdrop Army Stryker mobile gun system

mgsaridrop.jpgAll I can do is shake my head. Not only did the Air Force airdrop a Stryker, but it was the Mobile Gun System variant, which is heavier than your standard Stryker.

The Army is testing the 52,500-pound system to possibly equip the armored vehicle to meet operational needs.

“There is a present need to have airdrop capability for the mobile gun system, and we performed the feasibility test to see if the impact of an airdrop is consistent with static impact testing the Army has already completed,” said Alec Dyatt, 418th Flight Test Squadron C-17 CTF flight test engineer.

No word on the altitude of the drop, though the pic looks like they were up a ways. If this program is successful and implemented, it would be a major feather in the cap of Stryker supporters. To be honest, I haven’t ever heard one word about plans to airdrop Strykers.

Maybe the Stryker crowd is feeling heat from the activation of four M8 Buford Armored Gun System prototypes with the 82nd Airborne. The AGS was developed as an air-droppable tracked fire support system for airborne forces, but was canceled. I haven’t heard any more about the four AGS prototypes since it was announced they’d be put to use. Anyone? Anyone?

This doesn’t mean that the Stryker MGS (which hasn’t even been fielded yet due to developmental issues) will be able to perform the mission of the M8 AGS. But it does mean that maybe the Stryker will be able contribute even more than advertised in the right circumstances.

Click the pic for a hi-res version from AF.mil.

You know, if there’s anyone out there with some good stuff on this program, don’t be shy. Murdoc wants to know.

UPDATE: Continued googling turned up this Defense Today release on UniversalObserver:

The Army has quietly awarded a contract to General Dynamics Land
Systems to experiment with the parachute airdrop of the Stryker Mobile Gun System
(MGS). If certified as air-droppable, the MGS could meet a key requirement for
the 82nd Airborne Division, which wants a lightweight armored 105 mm gun to
provide fire support in airfield seizure and other operations.
“This is one of the options that we’re looking at for that longstanding
requirement for the 82nd Airborne Division,” said Maj. Gary Tallman, an
Army spokesman.

The release notes the availability of the M8 AGS and as of June (when this was published) the four AGSs had not been rolled out.

That site seems a little bizarre, so I’m going to post the entire Defense Today release in the extended section.

Defense Today
June 4, 2004
Pg. 1
Seeking ‘Options,’ Army Plans Stryker Gun Airdrop
By Nathan Hodge

The Army has quietly awarded a contract to General Dynamics Land
Systems to experiment with the parachute airdrop of the Stryker Mobile Gun System
(MGS). If certified as air-droppable, the MGS could meet a key requirement for
the 82nd Airborne Division, which wants a lightweight armored 105 mm gun to
provide fire support in airfield seizure and other operations.
“This is one of the options that we’re looking at for that longstanding
requirement for the 82nd Airborne Division,” said Maj. Gary Tallman, an
Army spokesman.
According to a document obtained by Defense Today, the Army has
tentatively scheduled a static drop test of the Stryker MGS for July 29. The
service wants to see if the MGS can survive a Low-Velocity Airdrop (LVAD),
where heavy equipment on pallets roll off the ramp of a cargo plane and sail
to the ground by parachute.
Another air-droppable vehicle is already available: the M8 Armored Gun
System (AGS), a light tank made by General Dynamics rival United
Defense, L.P. The 82nd Airborne had asked that the Army to approve an
operational requirement for the M8, and in March, the Army’s plans and operations
division, or G-3, approved the transfer of the four M8 vehicles
currently in storage to the 82nd Airborne’s home base of Fort Bragg, N.C.
The MGS, part of the Army’s family of Stryker wheeled armored vehicles,
is still in development; a low-rate production decision is due in August
or September. The M8, a tracked vehicle, was cancelled in1997 because of
budget constraints, but four production vehicles were delivered and are being
stored at United Defense’s facility in York, Pa.
The division still wants those M8s. Master Sgt. Pam Smith, a
spokeswoman for the 82nd Airborne, said, “We are still waiting on them [the four
vehicles in storage], and we’re still hoping for them, because it’s a great asset.”
It is unclear why the Army leadership put delivery of the M8 on hold.
Lt. Gen. Benjamin Griffin, the Army’s deputy chief for plans and programs,
or G-8, recently told Defense Today the service was conducting an “ongoing
analysis” of how to fill the division’s need for more firepower, but
gave no further details.
The service’s response has not satisfied some, including Rep. Robin
Hayes (R-N.C.), whose district includes part of Fort Bragg.
“Our troops have an ongoing, existing military need,” said Jonathan
Felts, a spokesman for Hayes. “Congressman Hayes believes that the four already
existing AGS’s could help U.S. military personnel to meet that need.”
Hayes pushed the Army to approve the 82nd’s request to receive AGS.
Felts said the congressman was not supporting the M8 over the Stryker MGS,
but simply pressing the Army to deliver what it had available today.
“To be very clear, Congressman Hayes is not advocating [M8] AGS over
MGS,” Felts said. “However, he fails to see what connection MGS research and
development has with putting the already-existing-and-still-sitting-in-Pennsylvania AGS’s into play.”
The Army’s Tank-automotive and Armaments Command in Warren, Mich., last
month approved a $500,000 modification to an existing contract with
General Dynamics to pay for the test effort, which is take a total of 5,000
man-hours.
The Army would likely employ Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transports
to conduct the airdrop, which would employ the 60,000-pound pallet system.
The contract modification awarded to the General Dynamics unit does not say
what kind of aircraft would be required, but the pallet would be too heavy
for a C-130 Hercules, the Air Force’s most widely used airlifter.
That raises questions for critics. David Pyne, a former armor officer
and president of the Center for the National Security Interest, a
Washington-area think tank, said the M8 has already been certified as
air-droppable from a C-130. “The M8 light tank is a proven vehicle which has already been type
qualified and, at less than 19 tons, has been proven air-droppable,” he said.
“Accordingly, it was made to order to fill the Army’s requirement for
the MGS variant in its IAV [Interim Armored Vehicle] program and I
advocated that the Army adopt it as such in a memo I wrote back in November
2000.”
Pyne suggested that the Army was holding back on the M8 because it was
perceived as a threat to the Stryker MGS program. Army officials
recently told Defense Today that the MGS, which had developmental difficulties,
was now on track for production approval.
“The basis for this action was the fact that many of the Army’s top
generals support the Stryker program on the basis of having a single common
wheeled vehicle platform which they hope will ease the logistical burden on the
Army’s operationally deployed units,” he said. “They fear that even if
a few M8 armored gun systems are deployed in the field, they will prove so
effective that wiser heads in the Army will force it to abandon the
Stryker MGS and use the M8 AGS to fill the IAV MGS requirement.”

Comments

  1. Remember, the Stryker variant dropped was the mortar carrier version, as the MGS variant has not passed the mean-time-between-failure rate for its gun. It WAS weighted down to represent the load of the MGS, but this did not simulate the stress on the gun carriage assembly, which is already very troubled.

  2. Just a thought, but has anyone suggested equipping the Mobile Tactical Vehicle Light (MTVL) with an adaptation of the 30 mm Chain Gun/mount used on the Apache helicopter? There appears to be more than sufficient room, and the lethality/survivability scores of a unit equipped with the M8 AGS and MTVLs so modified should be significantly higher than than any Stryker-based unit, as well as the notional M8/M113A (armed with a .50 cal mg only) unit.

  3. As a regular army M1A1 tanker, I can attest to the need for a 105mm or larger gun. The whole light armored gun idea is decades old. We just haven’t made use of it before. Dismounts need a large caliber support weapon. Mounted units need dismounts for security and clearing in urban ops. Tracks, wheels…nobody cares. Is it reliable and does it get the job done. When the fur starts flying we need what works. How big is the gun tube and does the heater work? ’nuff said.

  4. Mounted units (with MBTs and IFVs/APC) have their own dismounts and therefore don’t need ‘light infantry’. Along with a strong Mech Infantry component, the idea of a ACAV needs to be brought back. While the ‘one-turrent’ rule definately applies to a gun tank (MBT/AGS/MGS), no such rule exists for other AFVs except in the mind of a few big gun obsessed tankers (which isn’t every tanker). How much more effective in close quarters combat would a M3 BFV be if the two scouts operated their own overhead weapon stations with .50cal or 7.62mm at the rear corners of the hull? Firing ports do nothing but create weak points on the hull of the vehicle. Place two M3 Bradley ACAVs w/ a plt of four Abrams MBTs and the commander and loader can go back to the jobs of commanding and loading, stead of extra duty of firing the roof mounted machine guns in close quarters. And why care about the Stryker MGS when their is the Thunderbolt AGS, M8 AGS upgunned w/ a LRF 120mm gun, provided with a fuel sipping HED-D and greatly improved FCS and sensor suite. All that and it weighs less the Stryker MGS and doesn’t have ‘development issues’.