American Dragoons get their up-armored firepower in Germany
The 2nd Cavalry Regiment, known as the Dragoons, now have an appropriately named vehicle. The first of the M1296 Stryker "Dragoon" infantry carrier vehicles have arrived in Germany, and will be equipping this unit in 2018.
According to a report from Stars and Stripes, the M1296s are intended to help the Vilseck-based unit defeat Russian armored vehicles, including BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles, which outclassed the M1126 Stryker infantry carrier vehicles used in Iraq and Afghanistan during the War on Terror.
The baseline Strykers are primarily armed with either a Mk 19 40mm automatic grenade launcher or an M2 .50-caliber heavy machine gun. The M1296s, however, are equipped with a 30mm Bushmaster II chain gun. Like the M1126, the M1296 can carry nine infantrymen, the standard composition of an infantry squad in the United States Army. These dismounts can use the FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile, which has a range of just over a mile and half and is able to accurately strike the top of an armored vehicle.
M1126 Stryker Infantry Combat Vehicle. (US Army photo)
The BMP-3, by comparison, carries only seven infantrymen, but compensates by having a 100mm main gun, a 30mm autocannon, and three 7.62 x 54mm machine guns. The Russian BTR-80A and BTR-90 wheeled armored personnel carriers — other Russian competitors in the Stryker's class — are equipped with a 30mm autocannon.
A BMP-3 in Moscow, prior to a 2008 parade. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)
The Dragoon is not the only new Stryker variant arriving in Germany. At least 87 Strykers are being equipped with the Kongsberg Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS II) that can fire the Javelin missile. These vehicles would be used in conjunction with the M1134 Stryker Anti-Tank Guided Missile vehicle, which can fire the BGM-71 TOW missile.
Check out the video below to learn more about the M1296 Stryker "Dragoon."