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Army to get fourth 'Double V Hull' Stryker brigade with enhancements

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Oct. 13, 2014) -- The Army today has nine Stryker brigade combat teams, three of which now sport the survivability enhancement known as a "Double V Hull." The Army acquisition executive has approved procurement of a fourth such brigade.

The converted Strykers will also have other engineering improvements, to include a chasis upgrade, more powerful engine and higher-amp generator, said Lt. Col. Jason Toepfer, the program manager for Stryker development, speaking at the 2014 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition.

In the third quarter of fiscal year 2017, the Army expects to begin converting not more than 360 existing "flat-bottom" Stryker combat vehicles into the safer Double V Hull, or DVH, variety. The cost of the conversion, which will be completed inside the Army's organic industrial base, at places like Anniston Army Depot, Alabama, is about 30 percent less than purchasing a new such vehicle outright, Toepfer said.

"I think that's pretty remarkable, the fact we are able to leverage the organic industrial base that we have at our depot, at Anniston ... and converge them to create a fully-functioning, capable vehicle, without having to start from scratch," Toepfer said. "I think that's a great news story."

Those converted vehicles bound for a fourth Stryker brigade combat team will also get updates that are part of an engineering change proposal that will compensate for some performance issues previous Strykers have suffered from, as a result of the conversion from flat-bottom to DVH.

"When we built the DVH Stryker, we found a way to keep Soldiers alive and protect them. But we did that at a small cost," Toepfer said. "We gave up mobility, we added more weight to that vehicle. We also had an additional power burden. In moving that amount of weight, plus the Army technologies that have been added on since then, we put a significant tax on the power and on the network that is on the current vehicle. So we needed to find a way to mitigate that, and buy some of that back."

That mitigation comes in the form of an engineering change proposal that includes a more robust 450-HP engine, a more powerful 910-amp power generator, a chassis upgrade to handle the new engine, and improvements to the vehicle's internal network, which is designed to handle future communications equipment the Army may install.

Previous conversions from flat-bottomed Stryker to DVH have not included the enhancements in the engineering change proposal. The Strykers to be converted in 2017 will be the first to get those enhancements, at the same time they get the double-V hull. That is a change in the way the Stryker is being updated, and it is something that Toepfer said will continue. For Strykers that have already been converted to DVH, but did not get the engineering change proposal enhancements -- those Strykers will receive those enhancements at a later date, when funding is available.

Toepfer also said Army leaders are considering additional enhancements for the Stryker. The full plan for those enhancements, not yet entirely crystallized, will include a focus on improving lethality and networkability. Toepfer did say one such improvement might include a Javelin anti-tank missile mounted on a remotely operated weapons system.