Matthew Cromer, heavy mobile equipment repairer, uses an X-ray machine to examine a panel of armor and test for internal damage.
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Matthew Cromer, heavy mobile equipment repairer, uses an X-ray machine to examine a panel of armor and test for internal damage. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Photo by Mark Celghorn)
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ABOVE: Robin Hurst (left) and Evelyn Wilke, student trainee laborers in the Pathways Technical College program, reassemble troop seats for a Stryker vehicle.
2 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – ABOVE: Robin Hurst (left) and Evelyn Wilke, student trainee laborers in the Pathways Technical College program, reassemble troop seats for a Stryker vehicle. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Photos by Mark Cleghorn) VIEW ORIGINAL
Billy Craft, heavy mobile equipment mechanic, repairs washers removed from a flat bottom hull Stryker vehicle.
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Randy Williams, heavy mobile equipment repairer, tests the wiring inside of a headlight reclaimed from a Stryker vehicle.
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ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala -- Anniston Army Depot’s Stryker Exchange program, which began in 2012 through a partnership with General Dynamics Land Systems, continues to provide cost saving benefits to the Army and assist in efforts to modernize the Army’s fleet of combat vehicles.

Aimed at assisting in the conversion from the flat bottom hull Stryker to the double v hull Stryker A1, the Stryker Exchange program accomplishes this mission by reclaiming and repairing parts from the former vehicle that can be used on the updated DVH vehicles.

“Our mission is to save every compatible part we can, “said Ross Brown, heavy mobile equipment supervisor, who oversees the Stryker Exchange program. “We harvest a variety of parts from armor panels, brackets, electronic systems and winches to headlights. If we can salvage or repair it, we reclaim it.”

The Stryker vehicles are planned to be in the Army’s fleet until 2050, thus modernization of the various variants of the vehicle is a major focus. Phasing out the FBH vehicle is due to modernization and safety. “The urgency to go to the double v bottom is safety,” Brown said. “It has a bottom that is more resistant to blasts if a vehicle runs over an improvised explosive device.”

And safety is the focus for Brown and his team. “Our mission is always to support the warfighter and the work we do sustains the vehicles for the safety of the warfighter,” he added.

The program has seen much success. To ensure they can provide material kits for vehicle assembly, which also takes place on depot, Brown and his team work at least 30 days ahead of the production schedule. As a result, they complete 10 to 13 vehicles each month, a pace they have kept since the program’s inception. “Since 2012, ANAD has inducted and delivered 864 vehicle material kits to GDLS for the FBH to DVH exchange modernization,” said Garrett McDonald, chief of the wheeled vehicle branch, Planning Division #1, in the Directorate of Program Management. According to McDonald, that is in excess of two Stryker brigade sets of vehicles. Brown accredits the ability to perform at the current pace to support provided by the command staff and GDLS. “We have a lot of support from ANAD engineers and quality and we even have a General Dynamics tech on-site to answer any questions we have.”

This collaboration has been key in developing new processes for the program. For example, ANAD engineers and quality inspectors and GDLS engineers worked with the program to develop an armor repair process.

Dave Martin, HME team leader in the Stryker Exchange program, worked closely with the group to create the repair system. “The criteria for approving the use of armor is very difficult and rightly so,” Martin said. “The smallest nick, separation or delamination causes the armor to be rejected. So we developed a process that allows us to repair bushings on armor that has deteriorated or delaminated.”

One key part of this process involves x-raying any armor that is deemed suspect or possibly damaged. Using the X-ray machine, a mechanic can check for internal damage to the panel of armor which would deem it irreparable. Brown says, “This process makes us confident in the work we do and provides integrity for our systems.”

The process is also extremely cost saving. “One panel of armor costs anywhere from $4 to $8 thousand,” said Martin. “And if one bushing, or hole, on a panel is damaged, the entire panel is unable to be used.”

Having the ability to repair these panels points to the importance of developing new and improved processes. Brown and Martin emphasize that the shop is continually improving its processes, which has led to much success and cost savings.

The average cost savings per vehicle is currently $200 thousand. “To date, the exchange program’s approximate savings to the Army is $172 million,” McDonald said.

This cost savings is not just realized in saving the larger more expensive parts, however.

Brown emphasized the importance of reclaiming every part; even the smallest parts. “We have washers that cost $32 apiece. That may seem like a small amount, but each vehicle can have hundreds of washers,” he explained. “An employee can repair close to a hundred of those washers an hour. Over time that adds up to huge savings.”

Currently, the Stryker Exchange program reclaims seven variants of the Stryker. According to McDonald, the current vision of the Army is to utilize the program for all nine Stryker Brigades; converting all flat bottom brigades to DVH brigades. “On the current trajectory, all vehicles will be converted to DVH by the end of FY28,” he added.