The U.S. Army is quadrupling the number of Stryker combat vehicles equipped with the new 30-millimeter autocannon. The upgrade will allow Strykers to better fight against similar vehicles used by potential adversaries. It is part of an Army-wide effort to increase firepower as the service swings away from guerrilla wars back to the prospect of big-power conflict.
The Stryker is an eight-wheeled armored vehicle designed to carry an infantry squad across roads and cross-country to the battlefield. As originally conceived, the Stryker would have light armor and just a .50 caliber machine gun or 40-millimeter automatic grenade launcher. The emphasis was on a fast, lightly armored vehicle that could quickly deploy to distant theaters. The Stryker can travel up to speeds of up to 60 miles an hour on roads and up to 330 miles on a tank of gas.
Now, as the U.S. Army contemplates potential ground combat against the mechanized armies of Russia, China, and North Korea the emphasis is shifting away from mobility and towards firepower. Strykers may be called upon to engage vehicles such as the Russian BMP-3, Chinese ZBD-04, and North Korean BTR-80, and the heavy machine guns and grenade launchers Strykers used to carry are too light to effectively engage Stryker’s peers. There are currently seven Stryker brigade combat teams, and each brigade has about 4,500 soldiers and more than 360 Strykers.