February 9, 2006:
Yet another European nation is replacing its Cold War era armored vehicles, with wheeled vehicles similar to the American Stryker. Belgium has ordered 241 Piranha IIIC vehicles. This vehicle is based on the Piranha III LAV, long used by the U.S. Marines. These vehicles were designed by Mowag of Switzerland, a company now owned by General Dynamics. The 14 ton, 8x8 vehicle has a maximum road speed of 100 kilometers an hour. Belgium is getting several variants of the vehicle, (99 infantry carriers, 32 armed with a 30-mm autocannon, 40 with a 90-mm cannon., 24 command vehicles, 12 ambulances, 17 recovery and repair, and 18 engineer vehicles.) Deliveries begin late next year. These vehicles cost about a million dollars each. This is much cheaper than the U.S. Stryker (which go for about $1.8 million each), and has raised questions if the additional features (sensors and computers) in the Stryker are worth the cost. The troops using Stryker are very much in favor of a vehicle they "boot up" instead of start up. Since the European wheeled armored vehicles are unlikely to see combat, the controversy will continue.