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Is the U.S. Army Looking Beyond GCV?

Is the U.S. Army exploring a “lethality gap” in its Stryker Brigade Combat Teams? Or is it possibly exploring new lethality options that might be available in a “post-Ground Combat Vehicle” (GCV) program environment?

Odierno cautioned the senators about the enormous potential impacts that budgetary sequestration was having on the national defense, noting that a continuation of sequestration into FY 14 would lead to significant risk to Ground Combat Vehicle and other program developments.

Certainly Army leaders have acknowledged some threats to current GCV program plans. One of the most recent examples of this was contained in Nov. 7, 2013 testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee by Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno. Odierno cautioned the senators about the enormous potential impacts that budgetary sequestration was having on the national defense, noting that a continuation of sequestration into FY 14 would lead to significant risk to Ground Combat Vehicle and other program developments.

Gen. Raymond T. Odierno

Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno testified Nov. 7, 2013, before the Senate Armed Services Committee. During the hearing, Odierno warned about the risk sequestration posed to the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) and other program developments. U.S. Senate photo

However, just eight days after Odierno’s statement, the Army announced plans for a February 2014 demonstration to “examine the benefit of a medium caliber (30mm) weapons system on a Stryker or LAV III vehicle to increase lethality for Stryker vehicles.”

“This demonstration is a proof of principle event, not an operational evaluation,” the Nov. 15 announcement read, adding, “The Stryker does not currently have an approved medium caliber weapon requirement.”

While the Stryker lacks an approved medium caliber weapon requirement, there have been reports of U.S. Army interest along those lines.

While the Stryker lacks an approved medium caliber weapon requirement, there have been reports of U.S. Army interest along those lines. Industry acknowledgement of that interest was evident at the recent Association of the United States Army (AUSA) annual meeting and exhibition, where exhibits included a display of the new Kongsberg turret solution designed to carry 25mm – 50mm cannons on either tracked or wheeled armored vehicle platforms as well as other industry turret designs that could be applicable.

The Army’s planned demonstration of a 30mm weapon system on a Stryker or LAV III is perhaps just coincidental with the fact that the Army had previously identified 30mm as the most likely lethality solution for GCV. However, some observers feel that the demonstration timing is noteworthy in light of other expected programmatic decisions anticipated in the mid-February 2014 timeframe.

Stryker

Stryker crew members with the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, fire and zero their 105mm cannon at the Yakima Training Center, Wash., in preparation for qualification tables Sept. 7, 2013. Although no approved medium caliber weapon requirement for the Stryker exists, the Army is reported to have interest in a turret capable of carrying a smaller caliber cannon. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Corey Ray

Such speculation aside, the Army is planning its 30mm demonstration to coincide with the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE) Spiral I VIP/Senior Leader Seminar, at Fort Benning, Ga., on Feb. 18, 2014.

The Army’s planned demonstration of a 30mm weapon system on a Stryker or LAV III is perhaps just coincidental with the fact that the Army had previously identified 30mm as the most likely lethality solution for GCV.

The 30mm vendor demonstration and product display is not a sanctioned element within the AEWE, but will be “conducted for the sole purpose of demonstrating product capabilities and not for fulfilling mission requirements for an interim time frame.” All costs associated with the demonstration are the responsibility of the vendor.

The vehicles and weapon system will be vendor-operated throughout the demonstration event, which will include planned engagement of “hard surface targets” at ranges between 800 and 1500 meters. The engagement scenarios will take place on Coolidge Range and will feature stationary vehicles engaging stationary targets with 3 – 5 rounds per target.

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Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...