By Ann Roosevelt

The Army has received the green light for more General Dynamics‘ [GD] Stryker Nuclear Biological Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicles (NBCRV), adding state-of-the-art capability for the service and the joint force.

“This month, after careful consideration, the Department of Defense gave the authorization for 95 more Stryker NBCRV bringing the current authorized total to 112,” Brig. Gen. Thomas Spoehr, Chief of Chemical and Commandant of the Army Chemical School, said at Pentagon ceremonies Dec. 19. “This approval is both an acknowledgement of the serious threat that the United States faces from WMD as well as significant move forward to combat that threat.”

Nine of the vehicles are operating in Iraq today with the two deployed Stryker Brigade Combat Teams.

“The Stryker NBC Reconnaissance vehicle is the most advanced vehicle of its kind in the world today,” Spoehr said. “It represents a vast increase in capability over its predecessor the Fox, in terms of biological sensing, accuracy, speed, lethality, survivability and digital communications. It is a true leap ahead.”

The Army will now proceed with an extended low-rate initial production for the 95 additional Stryker NBCRVs leading to the eventual procurement of 355 such vehicles.

The vehicles will join the approximately 112 Fox NBCRVs, a General Dynamics-Rheinmetall vehicle, in the Army inventory (Defense Daily, Aug. 31 2006). The two types of vehicles will operate until there are around 355 Stryker NBCRVs, then the Fox vehicles will slowly be withdrawn, Spoehr said .

Outside in the Pentagon courtyard, a Stryker NBCRV trucked in from Sterling Heights, Mich., was on display. An early development model, the vehicle was refurbished as the production vehicle and will head to the Chemical School at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo., Maj. Mike Dunne, assistant product manager, NBCRV, said.

Staff Sgt. Frank Persa, Sgt. Ricardo Cruz and Spec. Christopher Case pointed out the various sensors and weather and humidity equipment and their functions around the outside of the vehicle, all of which can be operated while the crew stays safely buttoned up inside in a potential hostile environment. The vehicles’s Remote Weapons Station is also operable from inside.

The wheeled, armored Stryker NBCRV with its crew of four, provides on-the-move point and stand-off chemical vapor detection, biological detection, on-the-move meteorological sensor, and automatically transmits digital NBC warning messages. The vehicles will also go to National Guard units as well.

The Navy and Air Force have very specific interests in the sensor capability, though not necessarily the platform, Spoehr said and work continues to address those needs.

Spoehr said the state-of-the-art capability responds to President Bush’s repeated statements that the greatest danger to the United States lies at the intersection of technology and radicalism, specifically focusing on the threat of weapons of mass destruction.

As well, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey this week said the one threat that keeps him up at night is the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, he said.

The Stryker NBCRV gives combatant commanders “unmatched capability to sense, mark and warn U.S. forces about WMD in near real time,” Spoehr said.

This platform was an extreme engineering and design challenge because it is the equivalent of a university-quality laboratory with all of the state of the art sensors integrated onto the Stryker fighting platform, he said.

The Stryker NBCRV shares with the other nine Stryker variants a common chassis and drive train and common operating picture as well as maintenance and logistics features.

Unique to the NBCRV are a climate control system, overpressure system and inertial reference unit.

Sensors on the vehicle include the chemical biological mass spectrometer Block II, the joint biological point detection system; joint service lightweight standoff chemical agent detector; an NBC sensor processing group and chemical vapor sampling system.

Development work on the Stryker NBCRV dates back to at least 2000. The NBCRV and the Stryker Mobile Gun System were the last of the Stryker vehicles to be approved for low-rate initial production. In December 2005 17 LRIP NBCRV were delivered to the Army (Defense Daily, Dec. 12, 2005).

General Dynamics delivered the first two low-rate initial production Stryker NBCRV variants to the Army Dec. 7 at Anniston Army Depot, Ala. (Defense Daily, Dec. 12, 2005).

The program was an effort between the military and industry: General Dynamics, Hamilton Sundstrand Sensor Systems [UTC], CACI [CAI] and Battelle.

“This is a triumph of cooperation and we in the Chemical Corps are grateful for their efforts,” Spoehr said.