LOS ANGELES, July 26 (UPI) -- The first pre-production version of a new armored vehicle was delivered to the Army Friday and is to make its debut next week during an ambitious military exercise aimed at seeing how the military of the future will conduct its deadly business.
General Dynamics delivered the first of eight pre-production Stryker Mobile Gun System vehicles to the Army in a ceremony in Muskegon, Mich., the city where the heavily armed, high-speed armored car is being developed.
The vehicle is designed to provide armored firepower for the Brigade Combat Teams that are envisioned as the United States' first responders to trouble spots around the world in the coming decades.
The Stryker delivered Friday is the first to be armed with a heavy gun that will give Brigade Combat Teams a tank-like weapon that can be quickly brought in to support light infantry troops. The Mobile Gun System is armed with a 105 mm tank gun mounted in a "shoot on the move" turret.
The eight-wheel vehicle will be the centerpiece of a portion of the Millenium Challenge 2002 exercises, which includes a July 31 assault by paratroopers on a mock airfield at Fort Irwin, deep in the Southern California desert.
Once the airborne troops have the airfield secured, the Stryker, along with a dozen other versions of the vehicle, will landed aboard Air Force cargo planes to defend against a possible counterattack by enemy troops and tanks. The Stryker can be loaded aboard C-130 and C-17 cargo planes.
The Army already has several Strykers in its inventory designed to carry troops and supplies, serve as ambulances and operate in environments contaminated by chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.
General Dynamics received a $4 billion order in 2000 to build 2,131 Strykers to be assigned to the fledgling Brigade Combat Teams.