June 10, 2010:
The U.S. Army has ordered 14 Stryker Double-V Hull prototypes. These will cost about $2.1 million each. This new design is intended to improve resistance to mines (more common in Afghanistan than Iraq) by adding a V shaped bottom. This is one of the key elements of the MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) design. The current plan is to eventually modify a hundred or so Strykers with the V shape hull, ship them off to Afghanistan as soon as possible, and see if it makes a significant difference in lowering troops casualties. But first, the fourteen prototypes will be tested to determine the impact of the new design on Stryker operating characteristics. Some of the prototypes will also be run (via remote control), over mines and roadside bombs. Developing the new prototype design cost about $58 million.
Each Stryker brigade has 332 Stryker vehicles. There are ten different models, but most are the infantry carrier version. The current version of the Stryker costs about a million dollars each. This version is 6.95 meters (22.92 feet) long, 2.72 meters (8.97 feet) high and 2.64 meters (8.72 feet) wide. Weighing 17 tons, it has a top speed of 100 kilometers per hour and a range (on roads) of 500 kilometers. Stryker has a crew of two, a turret with a remotely controlled 12.7mm machine-gun and can carry nine troops. A 7.62mm machine-gun is also carried, and often another 12.7mm one as well.
The army is planning on incorporating the V shaped hull into the new Stryker II design, which will weigh about a ton more, and have a more powerful engine (450 horsepower versus the current 350), a suspension system and other mechanical components upgraded to support up to 27 tons, larger tires, improved brakes and improved sensors (so that troops inside the vehicle will have better awareness of what's outside.) These are the major modifications, there will be several more minor ones (better air conditioning, a sniper detector, more electricity generation and so on). Outwards appearance won't change much at all, unless the V shape hull works, in which case most of them will have that, and the vehicle will look different.
Stryker II provides for "growth" (more armor and equipment) as well as making the vehicle more agile and reliable. The changes are based on user feedback, and is considered a modernization project, not, strictly speaking, a new version of Stryker. Over the next year, Strykers will be equipped with these improvements and tested. About 20 percent of the 3,300 Strykers the army has are in combat, and units headed for Afghanistan will be first to get the modernized ones.