ARCHIVED - The LAV – the backbone of Canadian Army domestic and operational forces

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Article / February 3, 2015 / Project number: 15-0031

Ottawa, Ontario — Canadian soldiers can depend on the safety and mobility of the Light Armoured Vehicle III (LAV III), which was explicitly designed for and operated in extremely challenging and complex terrain as experienced in Afghanistan and other conflicts.

Developed for the Canadian Army (CA) to answer an ongoing requirement for a highly mobile light armoured vehicle, the LAV III is a wheeled all-weather armoured personnel carrier that can be used in most types of terrain, including through hard-bottomed bodies of water of up to 1.5 metres in depth. It can be set for four or eight-wheel drive and is capable of speeds up to 100 kilometres per hour on roads.

The LAV III is a large, relatively heavy combat vehicle that is fitted with sophisticated weaponry, including a two-man turret armed with a stabilized M242 25 mm Bushmaster cannon and a C6 7.62 mm co-axial machine gun.  It can also be outfitted with add-on armour as required for additional protection.

Wheeled vehicles such as the LAV III, as opposed to tracked vehicles like the M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier, provide quieter movement for tactical operations and generally have higher ground clearance to avoid obstacles. They are significantly more comfortable, manoeuver much faster and are substantially less difficult to maintain.

The advantages of a wheeled vehicle also include its ability to transition quickly from hard surfaces such as roads to softer off-road conditions by adjusting its central tire inflation system to increase contact with the ground, which also improves stability. This capability allows crews the flexibility to deal with the multitude of situations that are encountered on operations.

The Army’s LAVs have been driven over 15 million kilometres to date. Using an average crew size of 3 soldiers (a conservative number since the LAV III can accommodate up to 10, depending on the variant) which represents 75 million soldier-kilometres travelled in this vehicle, frequently over difficult terrain and in combat operations. The relatively low casualty rate is a tribute to crew training and the quality of the vehicle.

During both CA training events and live combat operations, the tactics and procedures, along with the capabilities of the LAV III itself, are focused on reducing the risks to the crews that operate these vehicles. The CA continually gathers lessons learned from operations and training in order to inform and improve future training and safety.

The Canadian Army actively supports the Government’s efforts to showcase this widely-used, Canadian designed and built vehicle to Allies and potential customers. A number of Canadian allies, including New Zealand, also depend upon the capabilities and safety of the LAV III.

Simply put, the LAV is the backbone of the Army’s combat vehicle fleet and will remain so for many years to come.

In line with the Canada First Defence Strategy, the Government is committed to providing the Canadian Forces with the right equipment to perform their missions.

Building on the successes of the LAV III to date, the CA is modernizing this fleet to ensure it remains a highly protected, operationally mobile and tactically agile combat vehicle that will remain the backbone of domestic and expeditionary task forces, extending the life span of the LAV series to 2035.

The Light Armoured Vehicle III Upgrade (LAV III UP) Project, announced in July 2009, will upgrade the LAV III fleet by improving the protection, mobility, and lethality of the LAV III platform, while maximizing command support and human interface factors.

This new vehicle, the LAV 6.0, is equipped with a larger and more powerful engine and a completely new driveline from General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada (GDLS-C. It features an optimized hull for comfort and survival of its occupants, and although the 25mm cannon will remain unchanged, the turret will be wider and will include a new integrated fire control system. More than 60 of these vehicles have been delivered and are currently in use.

By Lynn Capuano, Army Public Affairs

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