Light armored vehicles correspond to an adaptable model of weapon systems whose common factor lies in the protected transport of troops. This type of vehicle relates the concepts of armor, firepower, transport, passability, and speed, in pursuit of generating a balanced system, rapid deployment, capable of adapting to different environments, needs and threats at a comparatively lower cost than other weapons more specific and heavy such as MBTs. Due to their flexibility in employment, they can participate in both war and non-war operations (MOOTW), mainly in international cooperation and HA / DR operations at the national level. This article will describe the gestation, and current use of LAV systems developed particularly in Canada since the 1960s, which to date are used massively by the armed forces of the United States, Canada, Australia, Colombia, among others; and its competitive and cooperative advantages both nationally and internationally.
LAV III today
The change in focus on defense matters after the Soviet Union’s disappearance generated a different vision of the development of military capabilities, tending to systems adaptable to different situations and environments. For this particular case, the need for heavily armored vehicles was reduced, increasing the demand for more versatile and lighter vehicles. One of the forces worldwide that had demonstrated the feasibility of using this type of means in conflict areas was the United States Marine Corps. They, through a large fleet of LAV II systems, verified their capabilities in varieties of functions such as anti-aircraft and armor actions, command and control, troop transport, fire support, and surveillance.
However, Canada’s concept was to downgrade its tank units, replacing them with a medium with enough armor to deal with medium calibers and convenient firepower to destroy similar and even heavier armored tanks. According to these general requirements, the concept of the LAV III was born, this time a 30 ton carriage, which was compared in all its functions with the existing M-113. The tests yielded favorable results for the new vehicle, especially in its version with a stabilized tower of 25 mm. It allowed it to face adversaries at a greater distance with various types of ammunition and even face other tanks that could penetrate its armor (T-55 or similar). The cost of its rolling system was much simpler and more affordable than that of a tracked vehicle, lowering logistics costs in maintenance, maintenance, and operation.
On the other hand, its armor contributed to generate higher survival rates for the crew and troop on board, which, despite its weight, continued to be transportable in higher-load military aircraft, such as the C-130 Hercules. Its hydropneumatic suspension was far superior to its predecessors, allowing it to perform actions at higher speeds and contribute to the feeling of comfort in the onboard troop. The observation and aiming systems were improved to thermal versions, integrating a computer self-diagnosis system for failures and fire control. The on-board personnel compartment was expanded, adding a digital repeater screen, associated with the observation and aiming systems of the tower, which allowed the implementation of a live panorama system, reducing the degree of uncertainty before landing. Finally, an air conditioning system was integrated, which allowed it to operate in theaters with high temperatures, in addition to having an early detection system for chemical agents and individual respiration systems, allowing it to operate in environments of nuclear and biochemical threat.