Maneuver Conference 2013 – Vehicles

Posted on: October 22nd, 2013 by Will Rodriguez 9 Comments

As promised, this is the first in a series of articles chronicling the most interesting systems I saw at the Maneuver Conference (formerly known as the Infantry Conference).

Stryker Test Bed Vehicle Photo by Will Rodriguez

Stryker Test Bed Vehicle Photo by Will Rodriguez

General Dynamics showcased the Stryker test bed vehicle.  This is the Stryker with the latest  modifications/technology for the Army to play with determining the future direction of the Stryker.  It was maximized for troop occupancy with individual seats for every passenger well in excess of the nine man squad, very roomy.  It featured a double “V” hull, external separate sidewalls to provide more protection for the tires and most noticeable, a turreted 40mm remote weapon system.  The Kongsberg Protech Systems new Medium Caliber Remote Weapons Station was sporting a 40mm cannon and does not protrude into the troop space.  A little over a 100 rounds are stowed in the turret to the left/right of the gun under armor.  Troops inside can reload the gun from inside the vehicle or even toss different kinds of rounds in the ammo basket for different targets (e.g. AP, HE or air burst).  If the Stryker were fielded with this turret it could still carry and deploy the nine man squad.

The Infantry School is interested in giving the Infantry platoon a little more punch than the .50 cal or Mk19 mounted on Strykers today.  Considering the plan is to consolidate the M1128 MGS (a Stryker mounting a 105mm gun) out of the Stryker infantry company into its own company in Stryker BN’s (a good idea from the training perspective), it’s a good idea to beef up the motorized infantry platoon’s firepower.  No decision has been made if every Stryker will get a 40mm.  It might be limited to one of four vehicles per platoon.

Marine Personnel Carrier Photo by Will Rodriguez

Marine Personnel Carrier Photo by Will Rodriguez

BAE had the Marine Personnel Carrier on display. This is an amphibious wheeled vehicle capable of operating in seas state 3, can carry 9 passengers plus a three man crew. It has a V-shaped hull and has a range of 20 nautical miles.  It’s being offered to replace the AAVP7, a 70’s era vehicle serving as the Marines amphibious assault vehicle.  The Marines need a replacement badly.

This is a pretty sound vehicle except for two issues.  It’s not tracked so it’s not going to have the mobility of even the ancient AAVP7.

The bigger issue is this will carry nine infantrymen. Problem is Marine squads are 13…

That means the Marine squad hits the beach 30% weaker or has to link up under fire. This is the greatest weakness of the Army’s Bradley relearned in Iraq and why the Army has been so adamant that its replacement carry the whole Army nine man squad.

Marines, don’t repeat the Army’s mistake. We lived with it for 30 yrs and still trying to fix it.

XM8 "Buford" Light Tank photo by Will Rodriguez

XM8 “Buford” Light Tank photo by Will Rodriguez

Finally, we have the XM8 “Buford” Light Tank.   The Maneuver Center is pressing to fill a capability gap we’ve had for 20 years since the retirement of the M5551 Sheridan.  That being mobile cannon anti-tank and infantry support for Stryker BDEs and light infantry divisions though primarily the 82nd.  While missiles are great the reality is that missiles don’t suppress very well (maintain a rate of fire to keep the enemy’s head down and stay in static positions), guns do and relatively cheaply.

The “Buford” is based on the Bradley hull.  It mounts a 105mm gun with an automatic loader and carries a variety of ammo types up to 30 rounds.  It is air droppable by C130.  This would have been very useful in Afghanistan where the M1 tank deployed by Marines has had mobility issues in the restrictive terrain and a voracious fuel appetite.  Check out the video which features airborne drops, different armor packages which change the “look” and the extensive survivability testing the Army does on tanks.

Stay tuned.  Aircraft and things that go BOOM coming up!

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  • GodblessUSSF

    Good stuff Will. How big a problem do you think it is that the Marine Personnel Carrier isn’t tracked and only carries nine Marines? You said it’s a pretty sound vehicle, but those issues seem like they would be pretty important to me.

  • GodblessUSSF   Up front, I think it’s a huge issue that the Marines are going to be forced to accept.  
    The Marines actually have a tracked program, the ACV.  It’s the follow on program to the EFV that was cancelled after almost 30 years of development and over $14bil dollars spent.
    The ACV isn’t much different requirements wise than the EFV which was frankly too complicated (think of a wave skimming 40T light tank).  Consider then the fact that the nation’s broke and the ACV doesn’t exist.  Well all arrows point to the MPC unless we buy something off the shelf and there frankly aren’t any options out there with the speed, protection and troops capacity that the Marines want.
    The official position by the Marine commandant is he’s not giving up the ACV.  He’ll give up the JLTV before.  Well the Marines were supposed to replace all 20k HMMWVs with the JLTV.  Now it’s only 5000.
    The Army is having a trade conference in DC this week.  Until this week the Bradley’s replacement the GCV, was sacrosanct.  Not anymore.

  • BSchroe

    Very interesting.

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  • YankeePapa

    …Hopefully no final decisions until new CMC in place…

  • YankeePapa

    …Well, I could hope, couldn’t I.  I hoped for no decisions until new CMC in place, but Amos is like a dog with a bone… and from what I can see… on the wrong side of this issue… Hopefully he doesn’t do anything that his replacement can’t undo…

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  • valorius300

    Why would they deploy a tracked tank with wheeled strykers?

    The stryker is dumb, the M113 series is still the best APC in history, even to this day.

  • valorius300 
    The conference is a showcase of different vehicles.  We don’t typically mix tracks and wheels in the same formation except for a stopgap measure where a few heavy brigades used Strykers to replace their M113’s.
    The M113 was a fine vehicle in its day.  It’s armor protection is pretty bad as a 7.62 machinegun can penetrate the flank and when it comes to IED’s is even worse than the Bradley.
    The Stryker actually provides equal protection, more room inside and is a pretty comfortable ride.