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NBCRV: Latest Stryker Varient To Be Fielded

December 9, 2006

By Stark, Ty

The Stryker Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicle (NBCRV) is the last of the configurations of the Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICV) to be fielded. For those unfamiliar with the Stryker family of vehicles, there are two basic variants – the Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICV) and the Mobile Gun System (MGS). The ICV has eight different configurations, each fitted with different Mission Equipment Packages (MEPs) to match and enable its role in the brigade. In addition to the NBCRV, the other fielded configurations of the ICV are the Medical Evacuation Vehicle (MEV), Reconnaissance Vehicle (RV), Engineer Squad Vehicle (ESV), Mortar Carrier (MC), Command Vehicle (CV), Fire Support Vehicle (FSV), and Anti-tank Guided Missile Vehicle (ATOM). The NBCRV is a new and very different reconnaissance vehicle in a very new organization. Essentially, it’s an armored, rolling laboratory in an infantry brigade capable of detecting and identifying a range of hazardous materials and then providing automated alerts with the purpose of providing improved situational awareness and preserving combat power.

What does it do for me?

The NBCRV will contribute to a sensor network that will provide real-time digitized data through radio frequency and/ or satellite links to the brigade headquarters to provide operational chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) situational awareness and understanding and detailed hazard analysis. It does this by providing a Detect-to-Warn detection and identification capability for chemical and radiological hazards and Detect-to-Treat identification and identification capabilities for biological agents. In addition to detecting hazards, it can collect, store and transfer samples of biological and chemical vapor and liquid hazards, using strict chain of custody protocols for evidence of use. The system can identify a range of chemical liquid and vapor hazards ranging from toxic industrial materials to weaponized chemical agents. It can also identify biological agents for use in determining treatment protocols. These capabilities will increase the combat power of the deployed force and minimize degradation of force effectiveness under CBRN conditions.

How does it do it?

The NBCRV has similar survivability, mobility, communication, lethality, and transportability characteristics as the base ICV (including an RWS with M2). It incorporates existing and developmental CBRN sensors which enable it to perform CBRN reconnaissance missions and conduct mounted Sensitive Site Exploitation. It does this with a suite of sensors which are integrated into the platform and the Sensor Processing Group (SPG). The individual sensors provide data to the SPG (which is a pair of hardened laptop computers), which interprets and displays the data for the crew. Simultaneously, it uses the data to populate NBC reports and passes them to the FBCB2 for dissemination. This enables the system to conduct:

* Rapid, on-the-move, standoff chemical vapor agent detection (yes, standoff means you don’t have to be in it to detect it);

* On-the-move point (at location of vehicle system) vapor chemical agent detection;

* On-the-move point liquid chemical agent detection and identification;

* Stationary point biological agent detection and identification;

* Nuclear/radiological detection;

* Hazard warning and marking; and

* Solid, liquid and vapor sample collection.

The core of the NBCRV will be its onboard integrated CBRN sensor suite. The sensor suite is composed of 10 integrated, internetted sensors which provide input to the system:

* Joint Service Lightweight Standoff Chemical Agent Detector (JSLSCAD) -JSLSCAD provides stationary and on-the-move detection and identification of nerve, blister, and blood agent vapors using a passive infrared detector.

* Joint Biological Point Detection System (JBPDS) – JBPDS provides point detection of biological aerosols. The system will continuously monitor the environmental background for changes consistent with a biological attack and detects, collects, and preserves a sample for confirmatory laboratory analysis, and identifies which agent is present.

* Chemical Biological Mass Spectrometer Block II (CBMS II) -CBMS II provides detection of persistent chemical agents (nerve and blister) and TICs on the ground. The chemical agent is picked up by a sampler arm/wheel and presented to the CBMS heated probe head.

* M88 Automatic Chemical Agent Detection Assembly (ACADA) -ACADA provides point detection and identification capability for chemical vapors. The ACADA uses ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) technology to concurrently detect and identify nerve and blister agents under all environmental conditions, while mobile or stationary. The ACADA has a standard communication interface to support integration with the central data processing system within the NBCRV. It can also be operated as a standalone unit using built-in controls and displays. It is common to Strykers in the brigade.

* AN/VDR-2 Radiac – AN/VDR-2 provides point radiological detection capability of alpha, beta, or gamma radiation. It can be used as a hand-held, battery-operated device, or be mounted in the vehicle and controlled and monitored by the SPG. It is currently in service with the U.S. Army and Marine Corps.

* AN/UDR-13 Radiac – AN/UDR-13 provides point radiological detection capability of alpha, beta, gamma, or neutron radiation and can be used as a hand-held, battery-operated device, or be mounted in the vehicle and controlled and monitored by the SPG. It is currently in service with the U.S. Army and Marine Corps.

* Double Wheel Sampler System (DWSS) – The DWSS provides physical transfer of chemical agents from the ground to the chemical probe. It consists of two arms and wheels that are extended from the vehicle to obtain ground samples of chemical agents for analysis by the CBMS II. The system is capable of operating over primary, secondary, and cross country routes at speeds determined by terrain and surface conditions. The system can be operated manually or automatically.

* Chemical Vapor Sampling System (CVSS) – The CVSS provides the means to collect and store Chemical Warfare Agent (CWA) and TIC vapor samples for confirmatory analysis by a theater lab at a later date.

* METSMAN – The METSMAN meteorological sensor provides air and ground temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, and atmospheric pressure for use in populating NBC reports.

* Improved Chemical Agent Monitor (ICAM) – The NBCRV is equipped with the ICAM for conducting dismounted detection and identification of nerve and blister agents.

In addition to the internetted sensors listed above, the system has these integrated, stand-alone capabilities:

Sample Collection and Retention -The sample collection and retention system consists of 24 sealed vials that are filled by the operator using a glove-port in the rear deck of the vehicle. Using the vials, a 50cc sample can be collected and stored in a rack on the rear of the vehicle for post mission laboratory analysis. No egress from the vehicle is required.

Area Marking – The area marking function provides markers which conform to the guidelines defined in Standard NATO Agreement (STANAG) 2002 for marking areas contaminated with radiological, biological, or chemical hazards. The markers are weighted flags that are deployed from a port in the rear of the vehicle while stationary or moving.

Where is it in my brigade and who operates it?

The NBCRV systems are low density, mission specific, specialized platforms manned by specially trained crews located in the Surveillance and Target Acquisition Troop of the RSTA squadron. There are three systems in the platoon, which are manned by four- man crews. The platoon leader, platoon sergeant and squad leader are the vehicle systems commanders for the three systems. Each system has a chemical operations NCO and two chemical operations specialists (one of whom is the driver). The crew operates the system from inside an over-pressure crew compartment which provides collective protection from environmental hazards. The platoon will conduct CBRN operations as part of reconnaissance (route and area/ zone reconnaissance on primary and secondary roads and cross- country), NBC surveys (to determine limits of contamination), and chemical and/or biological surveillance. To review, according to FM 3-11.19, a search mission is the initial screening of a portion of the battlefield for chemical hazards (primarily persistent) that can affect the commander’s scheme of maneuver and are usually made in areas that are currently (or usually) unoccupied by friendly forces. They include searches of routes, zones, and areas. Surveys are conducted to identify the extent (limits) of contamination and are time-consuming operations. A survey normally results in marking the contaminated area and generation of an NBC-4 report. The CBMS is the only instrument on the NBCRV that can conduct a chemical survey. An AN/VDR-2 must be used to conduct a radiological survey. Surveillance is the “systematic observation of surface areas to detect CBRN attacks and hazards. Examples of CBRN surveillance include monitoring an area with an automatic chemical agent alarm or scanning with theJSLSCAD remote sensing chemical agent alarm or simply maintaining visual observation for unexplained artillery or spray missions” (FM 3-101-2). The goal of surveillance is to detect a chemical event without becoming contaminated or decisively engaged. This implies the primary sensor, the mass spectrometer (which requires direct contact with the contamination), will not be used. Surveillance missions, directed by the organization’s intelligence officer (S-2/G-2), are to overwatch key pieces of terrain for a limited period of time in support of the overall R&S plan and the commander’s scheme of maneuver. Surveillance is conducted when the NBCRV locates at a given position for an extended period of time (hours) and uses its standoff or biological detection capabilities. Sampling is an independent mission which gathers a small amount of contamination (chemical, biological or nuclear) for evacuation and detailed follow-on analysis at a theater Army medical laboratory or other specialized facility.

What do we know so far? And when will I see one?

The first unit to be equipped with NBCRVs is 2-1 Cavalry, the RSTA squadron for 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Wash. The platoon received its systems in early March and has completed its 13 weeks of initial training and an additional eight weeks of unit training at home station and Dugway Proving Ground, Utah. The Initial Operational Test and Evaluation begins Sept. 26 and will consist of two 9-day exercises in which the platoon will operate in a realistic environment conducting operations in an SBCT AO. The platoon will conduct the full range of its mission set against an active OPFOR enhanced with chemical and biological simulants.

Based on the initial training, we know that the system is complex but robust. It brings a capability not previously available to the infantry brigade commander: mounted, ground CBRN reconnaissance with a specialized vehicle developed to develop and confirm information requirements in support of the Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB) process. In the past, CBRN reconnaissance was the purview of the division commander. The organization itself is new. It is composed of three systems; other Fox-based platoons are composed of six systems. It integrates chemical and biological capabilities. Previously, these very different capabilities were in separate units operated by chemical Soldiers with different additional skill identifiers (ASIs). Speaking of which, these Soldiers receive a new ASI, L6, at the successful completion of their training. The system is as survivable as the remainder of the brigade, reducing the security burden on the brigade and is as lethal as the balance of the systems with an RWS-mounted M2 heavy machine gun and AT-4s. All in all, this system will considerably increase the situational awareness and sustainment capabilities in the brigade. Another unique aspect of the NBCRV is its probable proliferation. There is much interest throughout the Army for different configurations of Strykers, notably the CV, MC and MEV, to go to other units. The NBCRV is likely to be the first to be fielded in substantial numbers outside the SBCT. NBCRVs will begin replacing M93 Fox’s in Heavy Brigade Combat Teams (HBCTs) in the near future.

The Stryker Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicle

The Stryker NBCRV brings a capability not previously available to the infantry brigade commander: mounted, ground CBRN reconnaissance with a specialized vehicle developed to develop and confirm information requirements in support of the Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB) process.

MAJOR TY STARK

Major Ty Stark currently serves as the assistant TRADOC System Manager Stryker Bradley (NBCRV) at Fort Benning, Ga. Stark is a 1985 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and has previously served as a mortar platoon leader and company commander at Fort Campbell, Ky., in addition to other various acquisition assignments.

Copyright Infantry Magazine Jul/Aug 2006

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