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Light Armored Vehicle-25 (LAV-25) Bison

Canadian made, the LAV-25 is an 8 X 8 wheel, diesel-powered, lightly-armored vehicle that combines speed, mobility and firepower to fulfill a variety of missions for the US Marine Corps. The LAV-25 8x8 wheeled system was designed and produced by General Motors of Canada (which went on to become General Dynamics Land Systems). The LAV-25 itself is based on the Swiss MOWAG Piranha 8x8 series of armored vehicles, which GDLS calls the LAV II chassis, another company owned by GDLS. Its main armament is a 25-mm chain gun [hence the 25 in LAV-25]. It is in use in several countries. The primary function is to provide strategic mobility to reach and engage the threat, tactical mobility for effective use of fire power, fire power to defeat soft and armored targets, battlefield survivability to carry out combat missions.

By the early 1970s, the Marine Corps recognized that it swarfighting cability was being significantly diminished by the reduced availability of Naval Gunfire support, increased enemy air capability, and the loss of the 3.5 inch rocket launcher, the 106 millimeter recoilless rifle, and the Ontos-2 from the weapons inventory. Numerous Marine Corps studies identified the solution to this reduced capability as a mobile armored weapon syste mproviding maneuverability and direct fire support for ground forces. This armored weapon system came to be known as the Mobile Protected Weapon System (MPWS).

In 1979, the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF) was formed to improve US military capability to respond quickly to world crises. The US Army, along with the Marine Corps, identified the need to enhance RDJTF forces with an armored weapons system capable of rapid response. The Department of Defense (DOD) was directed by the Senate Armed Services Committee to procure an armored vehicle of the same design for the Army and the Marine Corps with production to begin in Fiscal Year (FY) 1982.

In April 1981, the Phase I Request for Proposal (RFP) was released. Included in the Phase I RFP was the definitive requirement for the LAV to be an off-the-shelf acquisition. Off-the-shelf was defined as "The offeror must have previously produced the vehicle, the vehicle is commercially available, and the vehicle is substantially composed of components which are in commercial or military in-service use." The foure contestants were Alvis Ltd. of England with the Scorpion, Cadillac Gage with the Commando V150 4x4 and Commando V300 6x6, and Canadian Commercial Corporation (for Detroit Diesel General Motors of Canada) with the LAV-25 8x8.

On 27 September 1982 the LAV-25 was selected. Subsequent to award of the LAV-25 production contract,the Army reviewed and reconsidered its requirement for the LAV. Revised operational requirements for the Army's Light Infantry Division, combined with budgetary constraints, caused the Army to terminate its portion of the LAV program on 29 December 1983. This left the US Marine Corps alone in ordering no fewer than 758 units for delivery slated between 1983 and 1987. After production had completed, the LAV-25 was subsequently added to the inventory of the Canadian Armed Forces in 1993 to which 203 were produced as the LAV-25 "Coyote" in the primary form of a battlefield reconnaissance vehicle.

The versatile LAV brings Marines to the fight on land and in water while also providing a weapons platform for anti-tank missiles and mortars, functioning as a commandand control vehicle, or performing logistical and recovery tasks. LAVs are equipped with twin aft propellers and rudders and can make 6.5 mph in calm waters of rivers or for fording streams.

Half of the Corps 800 LAVs are the common LAV-25 carrier-turret variant. The LAV-25 can accelerate from 0 to 20 mph in less than 10 seconds, maintain 60 mph speeds, climb 60 degree inclines and travel 410-mile on a full tank. The LAV-25 has a two-man turret, which provides ballistic protection equivalent to the base chassis. The vehicle provides the vehicle commander and gunner with full 360 visibility in the closed hatch mode via periscopes. The primary armament is the electrically powered M242 25mm automatic chain gun, the same as on the M2/M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle , which can fire single shot, 100 or 200 rounds per minute. An ancillary smoke grenade launcher (M257) is mounted on each side of the turret. The LAV-25 has a crew of three (driver, gunner and commander) and carries four [a few sources report six, which seems to be the crew of the Cougar ] Marines inside. Depending on the organizational element of the Marine Corps and the mission, the four-roan squad at the rear is equipped with both anti-personnel and anti-armor weapons. Firing ports are provided for each of these seating positions as well.

The United States Marine Corps (USMC) fielded a new family of light armored vehicles (LAVs). These vehicles and the Marines assigned to their operations composed three Light Armored Vehicle Battalions (LAVBs). Concurrently, HQMC is restructured its active duty operational forces. This restructuring increased the number of infantrymen transported in the battalion's LAVs. As a consequence, the First, Second, and Third LAVBs were renamed the Light Armored Infantry Battalions (LAIBs). The Reserve battalion remained the Fourth LAVB. This restructuring enabled the LAIBs to meet the proposed mission LAIB statement: "To conduct reconnaissance, security, and economy-of-force operations and, within capabilities, to conduct limited offensive or delaying operations that exploit the unit's mobility and firepower (Light Armored Vehicle Gunnery Operational Handbook 6 (draft), section 1, paragraph 101, (28 August 1987). Quantico, VA: Marine Corps Development and Education Command). To fulfill this mission, the family of LAVs had eight variants with each variant configured to meet a specific mission objective.

The LAV-25 is an all-terrain, all-weather vehicle with night capabilities. It provides strategic mobility to reach and engage the threat, tactical mobility for effective use of fire power, fire power to defeat soft and armored targets, and battlefield survivability to carry out combat missions. It is air transportable via C-130, C-141, C-5 and CH-53 E. When combat loaded there are 210 ready rounds and 420 stowed rounds of 25 mm ammunition as well as 400 ready rounds and 1200 stowed rounds of 7.62mm. There are 8 ready rounds and 8 stowed rounds of smoke grenades. A supplementary M240E1 7.62mm machine gun can be pintle-mounted at the commander's station in the turret. The LAV-25 is fully amphibious with a maximum of 3 minutes preparation.

The troop carrying variant, the LAV-25, mounts an armored turret containing an M242 (25mm) cannon and an M240 (7.62mm) coaxial machine gun. Externally mounted to the turret is a pintle for M60 or M2 machine guns and M257 smoke grenade launchers. The LAV-25 accommodates the driver in front, a vehicle commander and gunner in the turret just aft of the driver, and six infantrymen in the hull. The other available variants are: Recovery (R), Command and Control (C2), Mortar (M), Antitank (AT), and Logistic (L). Two additional variants, the Assault Gun (AG) and the Air Defense (AD) were also developed.

The GEN II is subdivided into fundamental types. The first (Type), has evolved from the United States Marine Corps (USMC) Light Armored Vehicles. The second (TYPE II), from the Canadian Armed Forces "Bisons" armored vehicles. The Type I chassis have been primarily used for the combat and combat support roles and the Type II for the combat support and combat service support roles. The LAV-25 is the baseline vehicle for the Type I and the LAV-PC is the Type II baseline. Both Type I and Type II incorporates subsystems, which are common to the FOLAV fleet. The power plant is a Detroit Diesel 6V53T diesel engine developing 275 horsepower coupled to an Allison MT653, 6 speed (5 forward, 1 reverse) automatic transmission with driver-select gear ranges. Power is delivered through a single transfer case to 4 differentials.

The four rear wheels drive the vehicle on a full-time basis, but eight-wheel drive is selectable. The GEN II has been designed and equipped with the capability, mobility, agility, and flexibility for operations in hot dry, hot humid, mild cold to cold climatic conditions and on highways, off road, cross-country, level and hilly unimproved roads, and in urban environments. It's low silhouette makes it a difficult target to detect and destroy. Maintenance training is available and will be tailored to each customer's individual maintenance philosophy. Common task training is taught on the baseline vehicle. Unique tasks are addressed for each variant. Technical Manual (TM) development, support, and sustainment is also available.

The decision to quickly acquire this non-developmental system was motivated by the urgent need for the Marine Corps to have a vehicle of this type to support their mission as a rapid deployment force. Combining a non-developmental system and an accelerated acquisition strategy produced a near-term focus that lacked sufficient consideration for long-term logistics support. This resulted in an inability to competitively reprocure spares and repair parts and the lack of a post production support plan - the two most serious problems in the fielding of the LAV-25.

The LAV-25 Lethality Program will provide depleted uranium armor piercing round for LAV-25. It also included software upgrade to ITSS for D/U ballistics, gun and recoil system upgrades to handle the D/U round. Ammo, gun upgrades are already fielded for Bradley. This upgrade allows LAV-25 to penetrate more threat vehicles. The USMC will continue to employ the current 25mm APDS-T round, but will obtain the flexibility to fire D/U when required to defeat more advanced threat vehicles.

The LAV entered the Marine Corps in 1983 with a service life expectation of 2005. As of 2007, the Marine Corps Light Armored Vehicle (LAV) had been in service for more than 24 years and was projected to remain in service until at least 2024, when it would be replaced by MAGTF Expeditionary Family of Fighting Vehicles (MEFFV). Blast resistant seats, larger engines and more durable lightweight armor are among the ongoing improvements to the 8-wheel drive vehicle. Through programs of service life extension, upgrades to armor and armament, along with survivability and capability enhancements, the LAV remained fully ready for the battlefields of the 21st century.



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