Okay, I’m always quick to point out when Stryker critics were wrong (which seems to have been quite often), but it’s only fair to play that way if you also point out events which support their case. One of the common criticisms was that the Stryker design was too top-heavy. A member of the 4-14 CAV, part of the 172nd Brigade, was killed Friday when his Stryker rolled. There are no details available, but the Army says that the convoy the Stryker was part of was not attacked. The accident occurred in Qadisiyah, which is near Rawah in the Euphrates valley not too far east of Syria.
More details here.
This isn’t the first Stryker roll-over we’ve heard about, though I’d like to remind critics that the two Strykers from the first brigade that fell into the canal didn’t just roll in. The embankment they were on collapsed. Too often critics point to those incidents as proof of the rollover problem.
UPDATE: POGO has a post up on this, and they predictably take a more critical stance. At least they point out that the roll-over problem isn’t limited to just Strykers, and they note this:
“Unfortunately, one of the best methods for avoiding IEDs (roadside bombs) is to drive like a bat out of hell and swerve a lot,” one insider told us. “This throws off the timing of the guys (insurgents) who are trying to either remotely or hard wire detonate an IED. Most of the time, their timing is too slow and the blast misses the vehicle.
“The down-side to this is there are a tremendous number of vehicle accidents associated with hyped-up young soldiers doing this day after day with Strykers, trucks and especially HMMWVs. All it takes is one mistake, and if you look at the number of nonhostile vehicle deaths due to accidents (again mostly in HMMWVs) you can see this unfortunate fact.”
They then immediately follow-up with a “yes, but”:
This may be true, but the Strykers appear to be a special case in at least one way. Because rocket-propelled grenades are a major threat, the Strykers in Iraq were outfitted with an add-on, 5,000-pound “slat” armor. This bird-cage armor increases the vehicle’s profile, and changes the vehicle’s handling characteristics.
So I’ll follow-up with my own “yes, but”.
Yes, the slat armor changes things, and the training wasn’t initially up to snuff. But the slat armor protects the Stryker very well against rocket propelled grenades, a weapon that the vehicle was not designed to withstand. I think the men in the Strykers will take the slat armor any day.
The final paragraph is interesting:
A story in today’s Aerospace Daily & Defense Report (paid subscription req’d) quoted a general saying that earlier rollover problems with the Stryker had been solved with more soldier training. However, even the extra training is a band-aid solution. The real fix will come when the manufacturer delivers vehicles with effective armor that doesn’t require the add-on cages. [emphasis mine]
This implies that the manufacturer delivered vehicles with ineffective armor and that’s why the add-on cages are required. That’s not the case.
Yes, there were some initial problems with the Stryker’s base armor, but that has nothing to do with the need for slat armor. The basic steel hull of the Stryker is designed to protect against 7.62mm fire. Ceramic add-on armor (which is where the problem noted earlier was) increases the protection to be proof against 14.5mm fire and 152mm artillery air bursts. The angled hull of the Stryker is designed in part to help deflect RPG fire, but the design spec didn’t call for RPG-proof protection.
This was known to be a potential problem, as any bad guy worth his salt has an RPG launcher and a cache of ammunition, so the Army designed the slat armor to be the short-term solution until reactive armor (which will also weigh down the vehicle, though not as much) is developed and produced.
So while improved armor will certainly be welcome when it’s available, it’s not accurate to suggest that the current slat armor is needed because of a design failure or a poorly-built vehicle.