ACE points out the AGS once again

Hayes’ letter to Rumsfeld tackles armor

In a comment, Airborne Combat Engineer notes:

The 82nd Commander has asked Rummy to release the M8 AGS prototypes, which are still in a warehouse in PA, even though they were supposed to have been cleared to go to the 82nd back in March. We’ll see what Rummy says.

So I googled and came up with the link above which includes:

Hayes repeated a year-old request that the Army assign four Armored Gun Systems, or AGS, to the 82nd Airborne soon to deployed from Fort Bragg to Iraq.

The gun system, which was created in 1996 as a prototype, was never purchased by the Army. At the time, it was marketed as a lightweight combat vehicle with a 105 mm cannon that could easily be airlifted into battle. The Army decided to terminate the vehicle because of budget constraints. It is now designing a newer model for future use.

In the meantime, Hayes argues the Army should use the AGS to meet the 82nd Airborne’s needs.

“It makes simply makes no sense to allow an armored gun system that has been type classified and tested to collect dust when soldiers are dying in the streets of Iraq,” Hayes said. “I simply cannot understand why we are not equipping our soldiers and marines on the front lines with every weapon in our arsenal.”

I’ve heard rumblings in the past that the reason the AGS wasn’t fielded immediately last spring was to not show up the troubled Stryker Mobile Gun System. The MGS begins regular production soon, though in low numbers.

Also, I don’t know what they mean by “designing a newer model for future use”. Is there an AGS Mk II program out there? A serious one?

You can’t just dust off some prototypes and field them, I realize. There’s training of crew and support staff. Acquisition of equipment and spare parts. Actual integration of the vehicles and attendant personnel into existing units. The list goes on and on.

But I really think this vehicle would make a difference. And if a Mk II program really is under way, the real-world experience gained in the field would be invaluable. If these things work as advertised, they would save American lives and they would assist in the completion of the mission.

Put them in the field.

For what it’s worth, I’m hoping that the AGS performs well. I’m hoping that the Stryker MGS meets expectations. I’m hoping that the new AGS program (if it exists) proves fruitful.

I’ve got no money or reputation riding on any of these projects. I simply want what’s best for our troops and our nation. I think that’s what sets me apart from the decision makers — No vested personal interest in one program over another.

I think there’s a place in our Army for both wheeled and tracked mobile guns. Just like I think there’s a place for both wheeled and tracked personnel carriers. In my humble opinion, there’s even a place for armored Humvee-mounted cavalry units, though the 2nd ACR is going to transition to the Stryker. I’d be happy to see both Stryker-based and M113-based mechanized infantry in the field where they are needed.

Rummy says we go to war “with the Army you have”. Well, we have four proto-type M8 Armored Gun Systems. The Airborne would probably benefit greatly from them. Roll them out. Send them in.

(More, including a pic, at ACE.)



  1. Upon further review, it appears only Rep. Robin Hayes [R-NC] has gone public with the request for the four stored M8s. The 82nd Commander probably did as well, but only off the record. His spokeswoman declined to confirm nor deny that. In all likelihood, he put a bug in Haye’s ear, but he knows better than to tell the press he asked for something.

  2. Have you heard of the Future Combat System?(FCS) If they make some updates to the FCS versions, they could have the first versions out early. (around 2007) These could be some armored vehicles for our military!

  3. I’ve read a lot about the FCS, and I must say it reads more like a Popular Mechanics article on something in the future. The ambitious plans are being scaled back. Read this: I’m not aware of any air-droppable/rollout light tank with a gun system which is anywhere close to production in this decade as part of the FCS. If you are, pls. provide a link. I’d like to learn of it. ACE

  4. Hmm, I don’t know if this is too good an idea. I’m not too sure if this vehicle has the armour to face IED’s too well. I presume IED’s are usually placed on the roadside at low level, and with heavy bolt on armour to protect from rpg’s, I can only guess the M8 will sit and take the low blow. This can only result in large damage, since it is only made of aluminium with some steel. Also with such a large gun, I’m not too sure how effective this vehicle is- maybe this is what is needed, rather than a 30mm or something similar- only the troops would know that i guess (it also has a very exposed mg on top). As murdoc suggests, and I agree, there is only one way to see whether it can be effective or not is to test it out in the field. All this info I have aquired from, a slightly outdated site with its info, but reliable, it seems. The airdrop idea is pointless anyway, being only configured to do this in base aluminium armour configuration, so use of it in this way in Iraq is pointless.

  5. Off the subject: I forgot if anyone knew this, but the new Ghost Recon 2, for xbox and PS2, has the XM8 in it. In case anyone was wondering.

  6. Vstress, my focus is having the 82nd ready to fulfill it’s primary mission, which is to deploy to anywhere in the world on 18hrs notice and drop in if necessary, so that’s why I want the vehicle to be air-droppable, not for Iraq. Gene, I saw the XM8 is featured in GR2. If the XM8 is never adopted, that might make GR2 a collector’s item. ;-)

  7. To learn more about the up-armor issue, visit Hack’s ‘Soldiers for The Truth’ site, which has several articles. I don’t agree with Hack and the others on many things, but the site is informative and thought provoking. The mainstream media deals with such things on a superficial level only, mainly to take pot shots at the military. But, IMO, the Pentagon is not showing the proper sense of urgency, given how many of our good young men are dying daily. Murdoc, I’d say the uparmored Humvee is not the right vehicle upon which to base an armored cav unit. We need to acquire a 4-wheeled armored vehicle like the Israelis use, which was designed from the ground up to be an armored, armed recon vehicle. The Pentagon should have put out a request for bids for such a vehicle as soon as it become obvious theree was going to be an extended insurgency in Iraq, in which case the vehicles would probably be rolling off ships over there before now. The Humvee was only intended to be a replacement for the jeep — a vehicle to scoot around in behind the lines. When the jeep was specified, insurgent activity in areas already captured was virtually unheard of. A new war environment requires new vehicles. ACE out

  8. Sorry ACE, but I’m going to take issue with the M8 being the vehicle for Iraq, or even the 82nd. Right now the logistics are a nightmare. There are no parts, and no trained people for the M8 program. The lead time would be at least six months. By then you could have the stryker air-drop tested, and there is a version slated for the same LRF 105mm main gun. I think the stryker has proven that most of the worries about it’s abilities have proven false. There will be issues that crop up, but it’s proven itself in the field. Now, let’s get it drop tested, and get it to the 82nd. Let’s get another airborne division while we’re at it. And a couple of mechanized infantry, and Armor too. I don’t think we need the M8 until we can support it in the field.

  9. ACE: I’ll completely defer to you on the issue of the appropriateness of the armored Humvee for the light cavalry role. I simply used it as my example since we currently have the 2nd ACR equipped with exactly that. I agree that other vehicles might fit the mission better, leaving discussion of the factors involved to another discussion. I’m just not sure we should transition the 2nd ACR to the Stryker. We wouldn’t want/need the Stryker in Haiti or Liberia, for instance. But lighter cav might be just what we need in some situations. I’m all for standardization, but not at the expense of capability and options. (And some sort of lighter non-Stryker, non-Bradley cav would fit into your Rip-n-Roll airborne scenario much better, whether it’s a Humvee or Fox or up-armored Ford Pinto.)

  10. Chad: You wrote ‘and there is a version slated for the same LRF 105mm main gun’ about the Strykers. I’ve read online that such a version exists, but everything I’ve read about the Strykers MGSs that the Army plans to buy says that they will utilize left-over M68A1 guns from the first M1 tanks. Has this plan changed?

  11. Chad: Any plans to test air-dropping the Stryker would be news to me. If you find any more details, pls. post the URL. Since the Stryker grew out of its specs, parts have to be taken off it to load it in a C-130 (and I’m not even talking about the anti-RPG bird cage, variances re. clearances have to be allowed to transport it, and the range is compromised. I wouldn’t want to land on a hot target area and have to find and bolt parts on a Stryker before it could be driven. The 82nd needs a smaller, lighter, 4-wheel or 6-wheel armored vehicle, such as other countries have. A gun smaller than a 105mm would probably suffice. The old Sheridan had a lot of faults, but at least it gave the 82nd SOMETHING mechanized and armored. It should not have been phased out until a replacement was ready to roll in. Good discussion, ACE

  12. Re. the XM8, Gene, I don’t know and have no inside sources, but I don’t think it’s guaranteed, from the little snipits of info/rumor floating about (all of which has been in MO and ACE posts on the matter).

  13. ACE and Murdoc: You both have valid points. First the 105mm on the Stryker. The Stryker turret ring was found inadequate for the M68A1 recoil forces, from what I had read. I don’t remember where, it may have been an army pub. The LRF gun uses some of the leftover M68A1 parts(barrel, and some of the breech), but does use different recoil systems, and such. I couldn’t explain them all, as I’m not an engineer, but I believe the gun would be similar to the one in the M8 Buford. As to ACE’s points, yes I too believe we need an airborne armored vehicle, and yes, the sheridan gave them SOMETHING. We need to seriously look at what capabilities, Armor protection, and mobility we need, then design a new vehicle to meet these requirements, and still be deployable with the airborne forces. For right now, I think we need to get the stryker ready, and capable. Even if you need to drop it in, and spend an hour bolting it together, It’s still better than just body armor and a rifle. I think the new mortar system they’re putting in the back of them would be great for the airborne, and it doesn’t have much of a turret, ao it should fit. I do remember Market Garden, and the D-day landings. (They were only supposed to have to wait three days until relieved by heavier forces.) I’m not saying they don’t need something, I’m just saying they need to use the stryker for the interim, until a purpose-built vehicle can be designed, prototyped, tested, built, and deployed.

  14. Sorry ACE, I forgot to address the air-drop trials. I’d read that they were doing the tests, and I actually saw the picture here on MO a short while back. I know there’s clearance issues, but it’s better than nothing.

  15. Chad: C’mon, buddy! You’ve got to know by now that Murdoc absolutely LOVES our guys in uniform. I’m personally skeptical of the viability of an up-armored Pinto, but what I was really getting at is use whatever it takes to give our Airborne what they need. All military vehicles are compromises, and the Humvee seems to make TOO MANY compromises to be the answer in the light cav role, but it’s better than nothing. Right now the Airborne needs SP arty at times (or heavy DF guns for bunkers and such), and they don’t have it. Something must be done. If a Pinto’s the answer, build a Pinto. Since it obviously isn’t the answer, build the correct answer.

  16. I know, man, that was sarcasm. I agree with you completely, but a pinto? At least the A-team had a van. I say we up-armor some 5 ton trucks, build a box on the back w/ 4 or five machine guns, and put a turret on top. Maybe we could use a school bus, it worked for Hannibal.

  17. ‘designing a newer model for future use’. ‘ They could refer to the M8 Thunderbolt, which is based on the M8 AGS. Its a light tank with 120mm gun and protection against 30mm rounds and RPGs. They could also refer to the FCS, its chassis appears to be based on that of the M8 AGS. Pictures of both the Thunderbolt and FCS-T can be found at Overal I think the M8 is a much superior vehicle to the Stryker 105mm. It has better mobility (better obstacle climbing, better turn radius, very superior cross country mobility), better protection and is type classified. Since its tracked it also can’t lose its mobility (or part of it) due to small arms fire. Run-flat tires are only to take you home, and are useless when the tires catch fire. Its a fact that tracks give better mobility off road and crossing obstacles and stuff. With wheels you limit your combat area to just roads. Tracks can go where wheels can not. Steel tracks are noisy on road (not of-road), but band tracks or kevlar tracks are quiet. The M8 standard (airdroppable) is protected against 7.62mm rounds and arty splinters, Level 2 add-on armor (C-130 deliverable) protects against 14.5mm (and I heard even up to 23mm). The level 3 armor package (with this its not C-130 transportable) protects against 30mm (and I heard even up to 57mm). Instead of the Stryker APC an uparmored M113 would be better. It also fits complete inside a C-130 and is not as huge as the Stryker LAV, which also exceeds C-130 weight limit so limits the fly range of C-130. I am not American, but a bit of a fan of the US military, I think the Stryker is a very bad vehicle. They say its new but its nothing more then upgraded LAV.

  18. Marcel: Just to point out a few things. The class 2 armor for the m-8 also limits the range the c-130 can fly due to it’s weight, just like the stryker. I think that we need a new vehicle for the airborne based on the current requirements, and then we need to build a transport that will haul it. The C-130 is an old bird, that’s still mission capable, but for how long? You pointed out that tracks are better at some things, and you were correct. However, tracks also pose some unique difficulties. Tracks are louder, require more maintenance, and can be broken, just like the motive system on a wheeled vehicle. Anybody here a tanker? If so, you’ve seen a tank ‘throw’ a track. It takes a lot longer to get that track back into position than it does to change a tire. I’m not saying our next airborne vehicle shouldn’t be tracked, I’m just leveling the playing field. I think we need to build a better vehicle, and a bigger/better adapted transport. The C-130 was never designed to drop armored vehicles out of, that just got added on to it’s duties. (Just like every other soldier/system.) And to round off this comment, the stryker is not just a LAV. The shape of the hull is basically the same, but so many of the internal systems are very different. The stryker carries a completely different electronics/computer system, a different drivetrain, and a modularity the LAV cannot accomplish. Some of this is due to the turret ring (new), and some of it is due to the updated/expanded computer suite on board. The LAV cannot support these changes without a complete redesign to a stryker-based model. I keep telling you people this, but you keep calling it a LAV clone. Very substantial differences.

  19. I hope its not that General Dynamics lobbying in the back to get M8 AGS out of their way not to be sent to Iraq. Months ago, there was a request for this but their was also a comment that this would not mean to be manufactured in mass and used in service permanently, sounding like General Dynamics have put pressure against the congress. If anyone has any evidence about that, we are happy to hear about it. Ignorance for its own profit while soldiers are dying in Iraq will not be tolerated. Another program, the M2001 Crusader, also part of the United Defense product has been cancelled as well. I have a feel that General Dynamics are doing nasty lobby activities cancelling United Defense new projects. Regarding the abilities of M8 AGS, it is less than the Stryker MGS in terms of the max speed, but the trade off is that M8 AGS has better armor with the module add on armor, and will do good on off road. There are merits and demirts of tracked as well as wheeled. I also agree with Murdoc that we should have both tracked and wheel gun systems (AGS/MGS). In some terms, M8 AGS sounds similar to the Japanese new tank program, light weight with add on modular armor kit, while M8 AGS is not a tank, and the Japanese new program is a tank. At last, I would say I have enjoyed articles from Murdoc on the DefenseTech site. I hope to see Murdoc to continue to post some articles whenever availible.