WASHINGTON, March 11 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army says a hull redesign for the Stryker vehicle will increase the safety of the signature carrier for infantry fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Gen. George Casey, the Army's chief of staff, told a U.S. Senate appropriations subcommittee this week that it was a "probability" that the Stryker would be modified with a double V-shaped hull.
Citing a memo sent to the Pentagon by the army's former acquisition executive, Defense News reported that the modification plans would involve a "limited number of Stryker vehicles, not including two variants: the Mobile Gun System and the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicles."
The plan comes as the Army's Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command awarded General Dynamics Land Systems a $253 million contract to service and afford logistic support to Stryker combat vehicles.
The same company has proposed the Stryker's modification plan after several vehicles were damaged in field operations in Afghanistan.
The vehicle has come under intense scrutiny since it was awarded a contract by the Army.
The 8×8-wheeled armored vehicle is the backbone of the Army's seven medium-armored brigades. Of those, three brigades are deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Army owns a fleet of an estimated 3,300 Strykers, of which 640 are being used in combat operations.
Army officials estimate the vehicle's modification will cost $800 million with orders anticipated to reach 450 for theater needs in Afghanistan.
"This represents a change to vehicles already on order," the memo by the former acquisition executive said, according to Defense News.
Military officials say the Stryker's shape change will help deflect blasts from the vehicle's underbelly. It will be modeled to the design of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected class of armored vehicles, The News Tribune said.
Although violence has sharply decreased in Iraq, roadside bombs are being increasingly used by insurgents fighting occupation troops in the war-ravaged country. Similar tactics are increasingly being used in Afghanistan.
"Insurgents wait for troops to drive past a spot where a bomb is hidden and then it is detonated underneath the vehicle in an attempt to kill everyone inside," The News Tribune reported.
U.S. Army officials told the Senate subcommittee that the new Strykers -- built with the double hull -- could not be retrofitted once manufactured.
Defense News said that the new hull design had not been fully tested, although limited runs showed the new model to be "very promising."
The double V hull shape is believed to improve the safety of the vehicle without increasing its height.