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Light Armoured Vehicle III
A New Zealand Army LAV III in Afghanistan
A New Zealand Army LAV III in Afghanistan
TypeInfantry Fighting Vehicle
Place of originCanada
Service history
Used bySee Operators
WarsSee Service history
Mass16.95 t
Length6.98 m (22 ft 11 in)
Width2.7 m (8 ft 10 in)
Height2.8 m (9 ft 2 in)
Crew3 (+ 6 or 7 passengers)

1 × M242 25 mm chain gun with TIS
1 × C6 7.62 mm machine gun
1 × C9A2 5.56 mm or C6 7.62 mm machine gun
(pintle mount)
EngineCaterpillar 3126 diesel
260 kW (350 hp)
450 km (280 mi)
Maximum speed 100 km/h (62 mph)

The LAV III, originally named the Kodiak by the Canadian Army, is the third generation of the Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV) family of infantry fighting vehicles built by General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada (GDLS-C), a London, Ontario based subsidiary of General Dynamics that first entered service in 1999.[1][2][3] It was developed in Canada as modification of the Swiss Mowag Piranha IIIH 8x8 and is the primary mechanized infantry vehicle of both the Canadian Army and the New Zealand Army.[1] It also forms the basis of the Stryker vehicle used by the US Army and other operators.[citation needed]


By July 1991, the Canadian Armed Forces had identified the need to replace their aging fleet of 1960s and 1970s era armoured personnel carriers. As a result, $2.8 billion was earmarked for the Multi-Role Combat Vehicle (MRCV) project by the sitting Conservative government. The mandate of the MRCV project was to provide a series of vehicles based on a common chassis which would replace the M113 armored personnel carrier, Lynx reconnaissance vehicle, Grizzly armoured personnel carrier, and Bison armoured personnel carrier. The project was, however, deemed unaffordable and cancelled by March 1992.[4]

By 1994, after the Liberal Party had returned to government, the army was still in need of new vehicles. As a result, the army embarked on the Light Armoured Vehicle Project, which would adapt parts of the MRCV Project, and be implemented incrementally to spread out the costs. Also, the requirement to replace the Bisons was dropped. The first phase of the project saw the selection of the Coyote Reconnaissance Vehicle to replace the Lynx.

On August 16, 1995, it was announced that General Motors Diesel Division (later renamed GM Defense, and subsequently purchased by General Dynamics Land Systems of London, Ontario) had been awarded the contract to produce the LAV III which would replace the Grizzly and a large portion of the M113 armoured personnel carriers.[4] The LAV III would incorporate the turret and weapon system used with the Coyote (which was produced at the same location).


Canadian Army LAV VI

In July 2009, the Canadian Department of National Defence announced that $5 billion would be spent to enhance, replace and repair the army's armoured vehicles. Part of the spending would be used to replace and repair damaged LAV III's due to wear and tear from operations in Afghanistan. As much as 33 percent of the army's light armoured vehicles were out of service.[5] Furthermore, the LAV III's will be upgraded with improved protection and automotive components.[6] The Canadian Armed Forces has lost over 34 vehicles and 359 were damaged during the mission in Afghanistan. The Canadian army has lost 13 LAVs and more than 159 were damaged by roadside bombs or enemy fire.[7] Of the $5 billion announced, approximately 20% of it will be used to upgrade LAV III models. The upgrade will extend the LAV III life span to 2035. The remaining $4 billion is to be spent on a "new family of land combat vehicles".[8] The Department of National Defence considered the purchase of vehicles meant to accompany the Leopard 2 and to sustain the LAV III into combat. The CV90, the Puma (IFV) and the Véhicule blindé de combat d'infanterie were the most likely candidates for the role. A contract of 108 with an option for up to 30 more was considered,[9][10][11] but a combination of budget cuts and upgrades to the existing fleet of LAV IIIs have led the Canadian Army to cancel its order for 108 CV90s.[12]

On October 21, 2011, the Canadian government announced a $1.1 billion contract to General Dynamics Land Systems to upgrade 550 LAV III combat vehicles. The government said the upgrade is needed to improve protection against mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which have been the cause of a number of Canadian deaths in Afghanistan. The improvements will also extend the service of the vehicles up to 2035 and will boost troop mobility.[13][14][15] The upgrades include a new and more powerful engine, increased armour protection, steering and brake systems. The turret hatches on the LAV III would be made larger and improved fire control, thermal, day and low-light sights, and data displays. The weight of the vehicle would increase from 38,000 pounds (17,000 kg) to 55,000 pounds (25,000 kg).[16][17] The first of 66 upgraded LAV IIIs was delivered on February 1, 2013.[18] The success of the upgrade program and budget pressures led to the cancellation of the Close Combat Vehicle replacement program later that year.[19]

In September 2012, the original contract valued to at $1.064 billion to upgrade the 550 LAV III's variants, an infantry section carrier, a command post, an observation post and an engineer vehicle to the LAV VI configuration, was modified. This included an additional $151 million to upgrade 66 LAV III's to the LAV VI with a LAV Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (LRSS) fitted.[20]

On February 10, 2017, General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada of London, Ontario, was awarded a $404 million order to work on 141 LAV Operational Requirement Integration Task (LORIT) vehicles. This contract will upgrade the remaining LAV III fleet in the Canadian Army to the LAV VI configuration. This brings the Canadian Army's Light Armoured Vehicle III Upgrade (LAVUP) program to a total cost of $1.8 billion.[21]

Final completion and delivery of the Canadian Army's Light Armoured Vehicle III Upgrade (LAVUP) to upgrade the LAV III to the LAV VI is expected to be completed by December 2019.[22]

On August 16, 2019, the Government of Canada announced its intention to purchase up to 360 Armoured Combat Support Vehicles (ACSVs), and that negotiations with General Dynamics Land Systems Canada had entered the final stages. Based heavily on the LAV 6.0/VI platform, the ACSVs will replace the Bison LAV and the M113 Tracked LAV fleets of the Canadian Armed Forces.[23]

On September 5, 2019, Public Services and Procurement Canada on behalf of the Department of National Defence awarded General Dynamics Land Systems Canada a CAD$2 Billion contract for 360 ACSVs, initial spare parts, manuals, training, and various vehicle add-on kits. The various add-on kits incorporated in the procurement include: add-on armour, mine blast & enhanced crew protection, laser warning systems, side protection and remote weapons station kits. The Department of National Defence stated that by procuring similar combat support vehicles in the CAF fleet offers the advantages of reduced training and sustainment costs, in addition to the availability of standard spare parts to fix vehicles quickly during critical operations. The vehicles are expected to support a wide range of operations, including domestic disaster relief and overseas peacekeeping missions. Subsequently, the ACSV will be available in eight variants to provide services such as: ambulances, vehicle recovery, engineering, mobile repair, electronic warfare, troop-carrying, and mobile command posts.[24] Delivery of the first set of vehicles is expected in late 2020, with the last vehicles being delivered in 2025.[23]

On May 25, 2020, Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace announced that they had signed a contract worth NOK500 Million (CAD$73.6 Million) with General Dynamics Land Systems - Canada for delivery of the newest generation of Protector Remote Weapons Stations (or RWS) to the Canadian Army. The Protector RWS is to be equipped on Canada’s fleet of ACSVs.[25] It was subsequently announced on June 1, 2020, that delivery of the first ACSVs was still on schedule for late 2020 and would not be delayed in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.[26]



Canadian infantry dismounting from a LAV III at CFB Gagetown

The LAV III is powered by a Caterpillar 3126 diesel engine developing 350 horsepower (260 kW) and can reach speeds above 100 kilometres per hour.[27] The vehicle is fitted with 8x8 drive and also equipped with a central tire inflation system, which allows it to adjust to different terrain, including off-road.[28][29] The LAV III is fitted with a modern anti-locking brake system (ABS). Unlike earlier versions of the LAV, the LAV III does not have amphibious capabilities.

New Zealand Army soldiers with NZLAVs undergoing training at the Tekapo Military Camp

The LAV III faces the same concerns that most other wheeled military vehicles face. Like all wheeled armoured vehicles, the LAV III's ground pressure is inherently higher than a tracked vehicle with a comparable weight. This is because tires will have less surface area in contact with the ground when compared to a tracked vehicle. Higher ground pressure results in an increased likelihood of sinking into soft terrain such as mud, snow and sand, leading to the vehicle becoming stuck. The lower ground pressure and improved traction offered by tracked vehicles also gives them an advantage over vehicles like the LAV III when it comes to managing slopes, trenches, and other obstacles.

The LAV III can somewhat compensate for these effects by deflating its tires slightly, meaning that the surface area in contact with the ground increases, and the ground pressure is slightly lowered.

A Canadian LAV-III during exercise TRIDENT JUNCTURE

However, wheels offer several advantages over tracked vehicles, including lower maintenance for both the vehicle and road infrastructure, quieter movement for improved stealth, greater speed over good terrain, and higher ground clearance. Wheeled vehicle crews are also more likely to survive mine or IED attacks than the crew of a similarly armoured tracked vehicle.

The LAV III's turret gives the vehicle a higher centre of gravity than the vehicle was initially designed for. This has led to concerns that the vehicle is more likely to roll over on uneven terrain.

While there have been several recorded rollovers (about 16),[30] the most common cause was found to be unstable terrain, specifically road shoulders unexpectedly giving away beneath the vehicle.[31] The weight balance of the LAV III is taken into consideration during driver training, largely mitigating the chances of a rollover. It is considered one of the safest and most well-rounded vehicles of its kind in the world.


ELAV with a Nanuk Remotely Controlled Weapon

The basic armour of the LAV III, covering the Standardization Agreement STANAG 4569 level III, which provides all-round protection against 7.62×51mm NATO small calibre rounds. A ceramic appliqué armour (MEXAS) can be added, which protects against 14.5×114mm heavy calibre rounds from 500 meters. In December 2008 the Government of Canada awarded EODC Engineering, Developing and Licensing Inc. C$81.5 million worth of contracts to provide for add-on-armour kits, modules and spares for its LAV III wheeled armoured personnel carriers.[32][33] This armour kit is intended to provide increased protection against improvised explosive devices (IED), explosively formed penetrators and 30 mm caliber armour piercing rounds.[32][34][35][36][2][37] The LAV III can be also fitted with cage armour, which provides protection against shaped charges. The LAV III is fitted with a nuclear, biological, chemical (NBC) filtration system accompanied with a GID-3 chemical detector and AN/VDR-2 radiation detector systems.[38] The LAV III was designed to produce a very low and very compact structure to minimize radar and IR-signatures. The LAV III also uses heat-absorbing filters to provide temporary protection against thermal imaging (TIS), image intensifiers and infrared cameras (IR). General Dynamics is in the process of integrating the LAV III with an active protection system[39] based on the Israeli Trophy system.[40]

The majority of Canadian casualties in Afghanistan have occurred during a patrol aboard a LAV III.[41] This can be explained by the fact that the LAV III is the most commonly used Canadian armoured personnel carrier in theatre, and simply represents a normal association between use and likelihood to encounter a mine or improvised explosive device.[42] The LAV III offers comparable or better protection than most other infantry carriers used in Afghanistan. In an effort to improve protection as a result of experiences in Afghanistan, future LAV III upgrades will likely include improved mine and IED protection.[43]


The LAV III is fitted with a two-man turret, armed with the M242 Bushmaster 25 mm caliber chain gun and a coaxial 7.62-mm machine gun. One more 5.56 mm or 7.62 mm machine guns is positioned on top of the turret. The LAV III also has eight 76-mm grenade launchers in two clusters of four launchers positioned on each side of the turret. The grenade launchers are intended for smoke grenades.[27] In 2009, a number of LAV III's were modified with a Nanuk remotely controlled weapon station (RCWS) to provide better protection and to increase the chances of survival of the crew against improvised explosive devices and anti-tank mine threats on the battlefield.[44]


The LAV III is equipped with a daytime optical Thermal Imaging System (TIS) and Generation III Image Intensification (II). The LAV III is equipped with a Tactical Navigation System (TacNav) to assist in navigation and target location tasks. The LAV III is equipped with an LCD monitor directly connected to the vehicle's external cameras, providing real-time images of the battlefield for the passengers.[27]

Service history

The LAV III and related versions have been used in the following:

New Zealand

The New Zealand armed forces purchased 105 LAV of which 102 were standard vehicles and 3 were redesigned for recovery.

In May 2009, two NZLAVs were deployed to support police during the Napier shootings. They protected specialist police while retrieving the body of a deceased police officer from outside the offender's residence.

In November 2009, it was announced that three NZLAVs would be deployed to assist NZSAS operations in Afghanistan and they were up-armoured.[45] In 2011, these three LAVs were moved to Bamyan to support the provincial reconstruction team there as they were no longer needed in Kabul due to reduced SAS numbers. Five additional LAVs were also flown to Bamyan. One has since been damaged by a roadside bomb. In May 2012, the New Zealand government announced that it may leave all these LAVs behind in Afghanistan for use by local forces when the New Zealand forces leave in 2013.[citation needed] As of November 2013, all of these deployed LAVs had been returned to New Zealand.

In 2011, after the Christchurch earthquake, LAVs from Burnham Camp were deployed to assist police with securing the inner city during the nights.

In March 2016, two LAVs were deployed to assist with lifting a siege near Kawerau in the Bay of Plenty after four policemen were shot at and severely injured.[46]



Map of LAV III operators in blue
  • Canadian Army – 651[1][27]
  • 2017 February 10, Canadian defence minister Harjit Sajjan announced a CAD404 million (USD309 million) investment to upgrade the chassis of an additional 141 light armoured vehicles (LAVs). The upgrade will increase the LAVs' mobility, protection, and information management systems.[21][22]
  • Saudi Arabian National Guard – 19[1]
  • Saudi Arabia will receive 900 modified LAV-III, known as the LAV VI (marketed as the LAV "6.0"), for 15 billion dollars.[48] Some of the 900 combat vehicles will be fitted with an autoloading 105 mm anti-tank gun, known as the Cockerill CT-CV 105HP Weapon System (gun and turret). This weapon can also fire a Falarick 105 missile, which can hit a target at distances up to 5,000 m and can perforate up to 550 mm of armour. The rest will be fitted with a CPWS 20-25-30, which can be armed from a 20 mm to a 30 mm autocanon and 150 ready to fire munition.[49][50]
  • Colombian Army – 32
  • On December 27, 2012, the Colombian Army selected the LAV III to equip its mechanized infantry units. The vehicles are on order from General Dynamics Land Systems to partially replace their M113s and gradually replace the EE-11 Urutu. They will be armed with the Samson RWS with M2 Browning machine guns or 25 or 30 mm cannons.[51] The contract was officially signed on January 10, 2013 for the order of 24 vehicles worth $65.3 million. They will have the double v-hull design and add-on armor to provide protection against mine blasts, IEDs, and other threats. Deliveries are to be completed by May 2014.[52] Colombia is considering ordering 9–12 more vehicles.[53] 8 LAV IIIs were acquired in January 2014.[54]
  • U.S. Army – The US army operates LAV III derived Stryker ACV, ordered from General Dynamics Land Systems Canada in 2000, with delivery of 4,466 completing in 2014.
  • Royal Thai Army – In May 2019 Royal Thai Army ordered 37 refurbished LAV-III derived M1126 Infantry Carrier Vehicles from U.S. Army and will also receive 23 more M1126 vehicles.[55] Around 60 Strykers were delivered to Bangkok via C-17s with an option to include 30 more Strykers free of charge while Thai military personnel will be trained in the US to learn about operating the vehicles.[56]

Retired LAV III on display

Related vehicles


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