Outgoing COYOTE LAV to be more than a museum piece

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Article / December 1, 2015 / Project number: 15-0151

Ottawa, Ontario — The coyote is known as a highly adaptable creature and the same can be said for the Canadian Army (CA) vehicle that shares its name.

The Army is preparing to say farewell to the COYOTE light armoured vehicle (LAV), though the venerable surveillance and reconnaissance platform will continue to keep soldiers moving through a gradual phase out period that should conclude in 2019.

A limited number of COYOTEs are being harvested of essential parts to build the new Long Range Surveillance System (LRSS), based upon an upgraded LAV chassis and to sustain the COYOTEs staying in service until the conclusion of the phase out.  Upon approval of the next phase of disposal, a larger tranche of COYOTE vehicles will be harvested of parts to maintain BISON LAVs. The BISON, which is used in armoured support roles, such as transporting wounded personnel and as an armoured command post, became part of the Army arsenal in the 1990s. The Army’s BISONs received a life-extending upgrade during the first decade of the 2000s, share common automotive parts with the COYOTE and are expected to remain in service until approximately 2025.

The process of phasing out the COYOTE, explained Major Robert Bouchard, with the Army’s Office of the Director of Land Requirements, is in keeping with the policy of getting the best possible value for the Government of Canada.

The aim of stripping parts is to provide re-used parts that are needed for the new light armoured vehicle upgrade (LAVUP) RECCE and to sustain the BISON fleet. Because obviously when we can get the surplus parts internally, that saves costs; we don’t have to buy those parts from the manufacturer.

The COYOTE’s surveillance role will be filled by a new LRSS, which will share a common chassis with the Army’s upgraded LAV infantry section carriers but will field a completely new long-range surveillance suite, lithium-based silent watch battery pack, and an upgraded RADAR. Its reconnaissance role will be filled by the new Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle (TAPV), which was developed by Textron Systems. Both have a V-shaped hull ­that disperses the force of explosions occurring below the vehicle, higher ground clearance, and other enhanced protection features.

The LAVUP are upgraded versions of the LAV III, which was added to the Army’s fleet in 1997. Features of the upgrade include a more powerful engine, drivetrain and a new hull. Both the LAV III and the COYOTE were built by General Dynamics Land Systems Canada.

Even stripped of some parts, Maj Bouchard explained, the COYOTEs should still have resale value. They will be offered to allied nations and the defence industry and there have already been expressions of interest, he added. All sales of surplus Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) assets are managed through Public Services and Procurement Canada. The potential sale of controlled military assets such as the COYOTEs is subject to applicable policies and legislation, including but not limited to Controlled Goods Regulations (CGR) and the Surplus Crown Assets Act.

The COYOTE has seen action in every major CA mission, from the Balkans to Afghanistan, and some domestic operations since first becoming a part of the Army’s arsenal in the mid-1990s.

It’s been a very successful vehicle,” Maj Bouchard said.

The CA’s COYOTEs come in three variants. One is a command model used by tactical commanders that is equipped with the same turret as the others but does not have a long range surveillance suite. A long range surveillance model is equipped with a 10-metre mast allowing crews to observe the battlefield while concealed. The third also has long range surveillance capabilities but no mast. Its surveillance equipment is instead detachable and can be operated remotely by the crew.

It gets a lot of respect from the users,” Maj Bouchard added. “We were one of the first NATO nations to field a capability like that: the long-range surveillance suite including both radars and long-range cameras. So that was very successful and a lot of nations have copied that capability for their own requirements.

The main reason for retiring the COYOTE is because there are limits to how much additional weight it can handle in terms of additional armour to protect soldiers against ever-evolving anti-armour threats.

They’re well armoured on the side and the front against bullets,” Maj Bouchard said. “That’s what it was designed for. But the main threat we faced in Afghanistan was mostly these improvised explosive devices. We’ve reached the limits of what the vehicle can carry in terms of additional armour, additional weight. So we couldn’t adequately improve the vehicle’s overall protection.

Some COYOTEs will also be retained as historical artifacts by the units that used them in operations, and for display at museums, including the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa and The Military Museums of Calgary, as well as on various CAF bases.

It’s important to preserve the history and heritage of this venerable fleet,” Maj Bouchard noted.

By Steven Fouchard, Army Public Affairs

COYOTE Light Armoured Vehicle

Built for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) by General Dynamics Land Systems Canada, the COYOTE light armoured vehicle (LAV) performed combat reconnaissance and surveillance roles. The CAF took delivery of 203 Coyotes in 1997.

The variants
Three COYOTE variants have been used by the CAF:

  • The command variant was used by tactical commanders for reconnaissance, short range surveillance as well as in direct fire engagement. It had no long-range surveillance suite.
  • The long-range surveillance variant included a 10-metre high mast that allowed crews to detect and monitor enemy positions while concealed.
  • The remote variant also had long-range surveillance capabilities but was equipped with detachable equipment that could be operated remotely.

Each vehicle had a crew of four: commander, driver, gunner and surveillance operator. The COYOTE’s armaments included a 25-mm cannon, 7.62-mm medium machine gun, and 76-mm multi-barrel grenade dispenser. Its ballistic-steel hull protected against small-arms fire, mines and high-explosive airbursts. Add-on armour panels were available for additional protection. The COYOTE’s top road speed was 100 km/h and 40 km/h off-road.

The Coyote saw action in major overseas deployments, including Afghanistan and the Balkans. It also served domestically. For example, in security operations at the 2013 G8 Summit in Huntsville, Ontario.

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