General Dynamics Stryker Job On Hold Until Fix Proven

January 29th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: General Dynamics Stryker Job On Hold Until Fix Proven
January 28, 2008 By Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg News
General Dynamics Corp. won't get a contract worth as much as $484 million for the latest version of Stryker wheeled combat vehicles used in Iraq until the Army shows Congress it has fixed reliability issues found in Pentagon tests, according a defense bill that's about to become law.
The Army can't spend the money approved in a new defense policy bill until service Secretary Pete Geren certifies the Stryker Mobile Gun System is reliable and effective for combat. The requirement is contained in the $696 billion defense policy bill that has passed the House and Senate and is awaiting President George W. Bush's signature to become law.
The Army wants to award the contract by April but first must overcome the legislative hurdle. Pentagon Director of Test and Evaluation Charles McQueary in his latest annual weapons report said the version in Iraq ``was not yet operationally effective,'' in part because of excessive heat build-up. While the Mobile Gun System was ``improving,'' new failures were ``continuing to emerge,'' he wrote.
The restriction was put in place after McQueary told the congressional defense committees in private about the issues last year. The Army's fiscal 2008 budget that's passed Congress and pending Iraq war funding bill requested about $484 million for 92 Mobile Gun Systems.
The Army also wants to buy an additional 105 gun platforms after 2009 from Falls Church, Virginia-based General Dynamics, the largest maker of armored vehicles for the U.S. military. The company had sales of $27.2 billion in 2007.
The Army ``does not expect any vehicles to be on hold'' because it's planning ``to provide the required certification'' next month when the Pentagon Defense Acquisition Board meets to decide on the program, spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Martin Downie said in an e-mail last week and reitereated today. ``The Army has determined that the MGS is suitable and operationally effective,'' he said.
General Dynamics Land Systems spokesman Pete Keating said the company is confident it will receive a production decision because the test issues have been fixed, to include the installation of extra fans, to cool equipment and personnel.
Sergeant First Class Scott Collum, a Mobile Gun System platoon leader who commands three of the vehicles, said in an e- mail from Iraq that ``like all vehicles, they have problems. Most of the problems have been resolved.''
Collum confirmed heat was a problem with some vehicles but has since been solved with the fans and new vests connected to air conditioning units to keep the crew cool.
The Mobile Gun System ``has performed above and beyond what the vehicle was designed for in urban combat,'' Collum said, adding that his 105mm cannon has been ``100 percent accurate'' during the 54 times he has fired it.
Twenty-seven of the vehicles, which mount 105mm cannons, deployed to Iraq in April with the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Fort Lewis Washington, as part of the U.S. surge of 21,500 combat troops. There are 10 versions of the Stryker. The cannon version is designed to blast holes in walls, destroy bunkers and sniper nests and lightly armored vehicles.
McQueary's report said ``heat is a major concern,'' with vehicle internal temperatures ``reaching 130 degrees in the day and 115 degrees at night.'' During the hottest times of the day, vehicle commanders turn off their wide-field-of-view observation periscopes ``to minimize heat induced failures.''
``Crews are concerned about their ability to evacuate the vehicle in case of an emergency'' and there ``is some concern that contractor logistics support is not sufficient'' because the General Dynamics personnel lacked experience with the vehicle, the test report said.
General Dynamics rose $1.67 to $82.80 at 4:02 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange trading and has risen 6.1 percent in the past 12 months.

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