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"Like in a Videogame," Says the Ukrainian Gunner Operating American Stryker IFV

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Stryker remotely-controlled weapon station / Collage by Defense Express // Source credits: Air Assault Forces Command, StratCom of UAF
Stryker remotely-controlled weapon station / Collage by Defense Express // Source credits: Air Assault Forces Command, StratCom of UAF

A Ukrainian crew of the American combat vehicle describes its experience of switching from Soviet BTRs to the new equipment

As he commands the M2 Browning with a joystick controller from inside the armored cabin, the gunner of a Stryker infantry fighting vehicle praises the interface and controls at his workplace: "Once you get the hang of it, you can aim at the target much faster."

Serhii, a serviceman from the 80th Air Assault Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, used to operate a BTR armored carrier of Ukraine's Soviet-era heritage, now part of the crew learning the ropes of piloting the American armored combat vehicle. The video from the training ground where the crew gets acquainted with new equipment was released by the press service of the brigade.

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Despite being in service with the Ukrainian forces for a year now, the performance of this vehicle has barely been in focus of our articles. This video is a good opportunity to take a look at how Ukrainian defenders describe their experience at operating Stryker both in and out of real battle.

Gunner Serhii points out the multitude of parameters and features offered by Stryker's combat interface. The sighting system display can be set according to the current lighting conditions, zoomed and focused, the computer can memorize the target's location, etc. The speed of turret rotation is adjustable which is unusual at first but helps to lay the gun swiftly.

Stryker has the buttons on the gunner's control panel all in Ukrianian / Defense Express /
Note: despite being transferred from the United States, Stryker has the buttons on the gunner's control panel all in Ukrainian. The HUD markings over the sight monitor, however, seem to be original, in English / Screenshots from the video, complied. Credit: 80th Air Assault Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

"It's like in a video game, here's a monitor, a joystick. Once you get the hang of it, you can aim at the target much faster," Serhii says and mentions that unlike in Soviet vehicles, he doesn't need to manipulate with optics or the gun by hand since he can fully operate the weapon station by using the joystick and digital control panel.

The remotely controlled weapon station is not just handy, it helps to save the lives of the personnel, elaborates Mykola, an officer of the 80th Air Assault Brigade. He points out how compared to conventional Soviet-type APCs, the gunner operates from inside Stryker's protected cabin. The same goes for the landing squad that doesn't expose itself to enemy fire by riding on top of the vehicle, a practice we can often see with BTR and BMP combat vehicles.

Ukrianian air assault troops on top of a BTR-3 during drills / Defense Express /
Ukrainian air assault troops on top of a BTR-3 during drills / Photo credit: 199th Training Center of the Air Assault Forces of UAF

In training, Mykola says, the crews are composed of rookies with veterans together so they can share experience. In real combat, however, unexpected features get the upper hand regarding importance. In an interview with an instructor from the 82nd Air Assault Brigade, published by the Strategic Communications of UAF, officer Serhii "Elf" highlights the mobility of Stryker, particularly the speed in reverse gear:

"Very fast vehicle, it drives at 100 km/h, or 20 km/h in reverse, which, in my opinion, is a significant advantage over all russian and our Soviet equipment because sometimes on the battlefield you need to turn around, and those few minutes save lives. That's why Stryker and other Western equipment can drive in reverse quite quickly, the 20 km/h is enough to <...> get to the hideout."

Serhii, call sign
Serhii, call sign "Elf" / Still frame credit: 82nd Air Assault Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

Stryker's maneuverability came in handy when it was used in assaults for fire support. It is not very useful as a stationary weapon, Serhii admits, so in defense it's mostly used as transport: for rotations or evacuation of wounded.

Interesting is his insight about repair issues. At first, field repair teams "encountered huge problems" when the new equipment had just arrived in the Ukrainian military. However, in that one year in service, Stryker became familiar to the technicians. "Now, they can even manufacture some of spare parts themselves, and repairs are much faster," Serhii adds.

Stryker IFV in service with Ukrainian Defense Forces, March 2024 / Defense Express /
Stryker IFV in service with Ukrainian Defense Forces, March 2024 / Still frame credit: 82nd Air Assault Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine
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