There may still be a grain of truth in the observation that “an army marches on its stomach,” as variously attributed to Napoleon and Frederick the Great. But the Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV) from General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada (GDLSC) is a far better way for soldiers to get around.
Capable of bursts over 100 kilometres per hour and highly mobile despite a curb weight of some 14,300 kilograms and a combat weight of more than 19,000kg, the big 8×8 has been the Canadian Army’s key tactical platform in various configurations since its 1998-2006 procurement.
Of the 651 originally delivered, 313 were kitted out as infantry carriers and 181 as command posts while the rest were a mix of missile platforms, observation post vehicles and engineer variants. Those third-generation LAV IIIs flowed from a lighter LAV II platform developed in the 1980s, gaining weight mainly to improve crew protection.
Procured as a broad-spectrum replacement for an array of pensionable troop-haulers, the LAV IIIs originally had all-round protection against 7.62-millimetre fire, which was upgraded to 14.5mm protection with passive modular armour.
Even so, they took considerable abuse during Canada’s most recent combat deployment when more than 100 were used in Afghanistan. At one point, a third of that fleet was reported to have been out of service. In all, more than 350 sustained damage to varying degrees. More concerning, they proved vulnerable to improved explosive devices.
However, the LAV IIIs aren’t about to be put to pasture at the front gates of Canadian Armed Forces bases just yet. The LAV UP, also known as LAV 6.0, project is expected to push their operational life to 2035.