As one of the first soldiers to shoot a powerful 30mm cannon from a new Stryker combat vehicle, US Army Staff Sgt. Randall Engler was excited about what the weapon could do for his infantry squad.
“It’s empowering,” said Engler, of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, which has asked the Army to give its Stryker fleet more lethality to deter Russia and other near-peer threats. “You’re laying that hate [on a target] with a bigger round. It’s doing a lot more damage and you’re getting better effects.”
According to a release, the Soldiers also tested the new CROWS-J system, a common remote-operated weapons station that allows troops to fire Javelin anti-tank guided missiles from the safety inside existing Stryker models.
“We try to get users on the platform early on, that’s why there are crews from 2nd Cavalry here now,” said Col. Glenn Dean, the US Army’s Stryker program manager, during a media event Tuesday at Aberdeen.
Six Stryker vehicles from each 30mm cannon and Javelin variant are slated to head to Germany this January, where more 2nd Cavalry Soldiers will be able to share their input. The US Army hopes to field the combat vehicles in a forward location next summer when the regiment’s 1st Squadron is expected to go to Poland, Dean added.
During the recent 30mm cannon testing at, the US Army claim soldiers saw a vast improvement in accuracy compared to the .50-calibre machine gun, which is mounted on many Stryker vehicles.
“With this, we’re seeing a shot group about the size of a basketball,” Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Young, senior NCO of the Army’s Stryker program, said of the remote-operated cannon hitting a target at 1,800 meters away. “If I aim at something, I know I’m going to hit it and I’m going to do damage to it.”
Soldiers do lose some situational awareness after designers had to accommodate the large cannon on the unmanned turret. Vision blocks in the front of the Stryker have been added and there’s the possibility of putting cameras on future vehicles, depending how 2nd Cavalry formations react to the vehicles in testing.
“It will take some getting used to,” Young said of the loss of situational awareness, “but eventually we’ll be able to find some solutions to integrate into the vehicle to assist with that.”
If given the choice between a hatch to look out of and a 30 mm cannon capable of shooting 200 rounds per minute, many Soldiers may prefer the extra lethality.