Army plans 2018 Europe deployment for new Stryker prototype
By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 7, 2016
STUTTGART, Germany — The Army will begin fielding a more lethal version of the Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle to Europe in 2018, roughly three years after U.S. Army Europe issued an urgent request for more firepower for the Vilseck, Germany-based 2nd Cavalry Regiment.
A prototype of the new Stryker, outfitted with a 30mm cannon, was delivered to the Army last month. The upgraded combat vehicles will arrive in Germany around May 2018, the Army said.
The development of the upgunned “Dragoon” Styker, named after the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, was completed in “near-record time from concept to delivery,” Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel B. Allyn said in October.
The push to add firepower in Europe came after Russia’s 2014 intervention in Ukraine and in connection with concerns that the Army’s fighting vehicles on the Continent needed to close a capabilities gap with their Russian counterparts.
“The Russians, it turns out, had upgraded and fielded significant capabilities while we were engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Allyn, as quoted by the Army’s official press service. The Stryker’s existing weaponry placed U.S. forces at “unacceptable risk.”
In 2015, the Army “validated the high-priority need” for a 30mm weapons system, which would give more direct-fire support for dismounted infantrymen “when engaging like units,” USAREUR said in a statement at the time.
The 2nd Cavalry Regiment, which has some of the Army’s oldest Strykers still in operation, asked that 81 of the vehicles be fitted with the 30mm autocannons to replace the 12.7mm machine guns currently mounted on the eight-wheel-drive troop transports.
The 2nd Cav is one of two Army brigades permanently stationed in Europe and has played a key role in U.S. European Command efforts to increase the presence of U.S. forces along NATO’s eastern edge, in places such as the Baltics and Estonia.
In 2017, several hundred soldiers from the regiment will deploy to Poland, where they will serve as part of NATO’s new enhanced presence in the region. This includes multinational battalions in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuanian, and northeastern Poland, where U.S. troops will be in the lead.
For several years now, the Army had been examining how to provide the Strykers with more firepower. The service says the 30mm system can strike with precision more than 2,000 meters away and can use ammunition from several sources, including from Apache helicopters.