Army seeks better Stryker communications

The Army recommended spending $1.4 billion on artillery, aviation and communications improvements for the final two Stryker Brigades, according to a new service report submitted to the Defense Department earlier this month.

The Army's 2003 budget required enhancements for the firepower and communications of the Stryker infantry carrier before funding is released for Stryker brigades five and six. Each brigade has 309 of the 19-ton wheeled vehicles.

Army officials suggested increasing each brigade's number of Secure Mobile Anti-jam Reliable Tactical Terminal (SMART-T) systems from three to five and replacing each unit's 44 Near-Term Digital Radio Systems and Mobile Subscriber Equipment-Triservice Tactical Terminals with 53 Joint Tactical Radio Systems (JTRS) and Wide-Area Network Single Shelter Switch Baseband Nodes, said Maj. Gary Tallman, Army spokesman. The changes will give the Stryker forces communications that are more mobile and easier to use with military and coalition forces, Tallman said.

The Army would make the updates in 2005 to Stryker Brigades five and six, located in Hawaii and Pennsylvania, followed in 2007 with improvements to Stryker Brigades one though four, located in Washington, Louisiana and Alaska, he said.

The Army laid out $837 million of the $1.4 billion Stryker enhancements in its 2005 to 2009 Program Objective Memorandum, the service's future years' defense plan, Tallman said. The Army will allocate the remaining $563 million in its 2006 to 2010 POM due the fall of 2004, he said. The Army did not say how much of the money it spends directly on the communications improvements.

Meanwhile, the Army's first Stryker Brigade, located at Fort Lewis, Wash., entered Iraq in early December and now patrols Samarra, Iraq, north of Baghdad. The new, lighter, faster force conducts combat, peacekeeping and reconnaissance missions with U.S. and coalition troops.

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