As one of the first Soldiers to shoot a powerful 30 mm cannon from a new Stryker combat vehicle, 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.”
Engler and 14 others from the regiment recently traveled from Germany to Aberdeen Proving Ground as part of a six-week test and training event on the new Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle, which is nicknamed “Dragoon” after the unit.
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 Army’s Stryker program manager, during a media event Tuesday at Aberdeen.
Six Stryker vehicles from each 30 mm 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 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.
The regiment requested more firepower for its 81 Stryker ICVs due to the recent military operations of Russia, which has shown hostility in parts of Eastern Europe.
After seeing Russia’s upgraded combat vehicles during the country’s invasion of Ukraine in 2015, Army leaders recognized a need to revamp the Stryker fleet.
“The Russians, it turns out, had upgraded and fielded significant capabilities while we were engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel B. Allyn said after the first Dragoon prototype was delivered in October.
The Orbital ATK XM813 30X173mm cannon used on the Dragoon is a derivative of the Mk44 Bushmaster II cannon—a highly capable, reliable and versatile weapon. Derivatives of the Mk44 fly on AC-130J gunships and are installed on Littoral Combat Ships and San Antonio class amphibious assault ships, not to mention many other weapon systems applications around the globe.
The 30mm cannon is not meant to give the Stryker the ability to take on columns of enemy advanced heavy armor offensively, but it does give Stryker units a far more robust defensive capability against those types of threats.