WASHINGTON —The U.S. Army is working to refine the performance of its new Medium Caliber Weapon System — a 30mm, unmanned turreted auto-cannon on a Stryker combat vehicle — through risk management testing and soldier evaluation ahead of production, according to Brig. Gen. Glenn Dean, program executive officer for ground combat systems.
The service awarded a contract to Oshkosh Defense in June to build the system on the Stryker. Oshkosh beat out two other competitors: a General Dynamics Land Systems-Kongsberg Defense team and a Leonardo DRS-Moog team.
The first delivery order, valued at about $130 million, covers 91 vehicles. In August, the Army ordered 83 more, in a deal worth $99 million, to outfit another brigade combat team.
The first unit to receive the MCWS Strykers will be the I-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. The Army expects to complete fielding to that unit by December 2023.
The service opted to outfit three out of its six brigades equipped with Double V-Hull A1 Strykers with 30mm guns, following an Army Requirements Oversight Council that reviewed the performance of a rapidly fielded 30mm Stryker Dragoon system urgently built to support the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Europe.
The Army is conducting risk management testing on the new system to accelerate the competitive process, Dean told Defense News in a recent interview ahead of the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference.
The testing “makes it sound like, oh, we have all kinds of problems,” Dean said, but “we are running the gamut of performance tests: It’s everything from weapon accuracy to system reliability to durability and automotive performance. So we are under a normal course of duties in a sort of accelerated program here.”
The Army is generating a lot of cycles of tests, which includes thousands of rounds fired and thousands of miles, Dean said.
“Had we done our normal number of cycles of testing, the competition would have taken us about 18 months,” he added.
During the competitive phase, the Army tested the performance parameters. Now, it’s adding cycles of tests to “build competence in [our] measurement of performance and it also helps build things like reliability,” Dean said.
Included in the risk management testing is the evaluation of weapon accuracy modifications and some control and graphic user interface refinements, Dean noted. “Nothing that I would consider particularly concerning or risky,” he said.
The Army’s MCWS capability is outperforming the initial Dragoon system fielded to Europe, according to Dean, including in its targeting.
But, Dean said, “we still want to do some further improvement.”
The Army also gave soldiers the opportunity to extensively evaluate the system, he added.
“We had a bunch of soldiers that were familiar with the Stryker Dragoon that we fielded in Germany,” he said. “We had them come and get on the new platform to give us their feedback and identify what’s better, what’s not, what do you want us to change.”
The soldiers also worked out ammunition load plans and suggested adjusting items like stowage and controls on the interface to be more user-friendly, according to Dean.
The feedback and data gathered during risk management testing will inform development of the final production configuration in time for it to roll off the line “in a little over a year,” Dean said.
At AUSA, Oshkosh is displaying the MCWS on a Stryker. Its team includes Pratt Miller, which Oshkosh now owns, and Israeli defense company Rafael.
The effort marks Oshkosh’s first pursuit in the combat vehicle space, John Bryant, Oshkosh Defense’s president, recently told Defense News.
“Oshkosh has been successfully bending heavy metal, particularly on the [Joint Light Tactical Vehicle] program for a number of years, Rafael has just a fantastic remote weapon station and Pratt Miller designed a very capable turret,” Bryant said. “We thought that Oshkosh could offer a really highly capable weapons system at a price that would be new and different for the U.S. government.”
Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club's best analytical reporting award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2018.