Strykers in Suriname

By Marjorie Censer / July 29, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Army has conducted its first tropical environment testing of the Stryker vehicle, according to the latest issue of Army AL&T Magazine.

The tests were held in an unlikely place: Suriname, which the magazine notes is South America's smallest country and has a per capita income less than 10 percent that of the United States.

Though Yuma Proving Ground, AZ, where the Stryker has undergone extensive testing, "also maintains test facilities in Hawaii, Honduras, and Panama, none of the three were suitable for the unique requirements of testing the several dozen-ton vehicle," the article says.

But readying for testing in Suriname wasn't easy, it adds. The Army had to find living quarters for testers and quickly build a compound "with security fencing, wiring, and communications networks." A test vehicle operator staked out 30 miles of existing roads for the evaluation, while the test vehicle endured a four-week boat trip from Texas to Suriname, delayed by a hurricane and other bad weather.

The testing was insightful, the magazine says, noting, for example, that the vehicle often sank in clay saturated by tropical rains. Testers learned that keeping the tires inflated at highway pressures would prevent sinking while also ensuring jungle biomass did not "compromise the space between the wheel and the tire."

"These types of insights would not have been generated by testing the vehicle in a simulation chamber," the article says.

Ultimately, it adds, the testing was completed five weeks ahead of schedule.