The Canadian LAV III 8×8 Infantry Fighting Vehicle

Background of the Light Armoured Vehicle AKA LAV

Most major AFV manufacturers have facilities in a number of countries. General Dynamics Land Systems is no exception and has a large facility in Canada known as GDLS-Canada (which was previously GM Defense and was purchased by GDLS), which focuses on the production & development of Wheeled Vehicles for the international market.

The Swiss firm MOWAG developed a series of 4×4, 6×6 and 8×8 wheeled troop carriers for the Swiss Army commonly known as the Piranha during the 1970’s. Their order books have expanded to include international purchases from many other nations Armies and includes the licenced production during the 1970’s of their 6×6 vehicle by GDLS-Canada for the Canadian Army, who designated it the Armoured Vehicle General Purpose AKA “AVGP”.

There were three variants of this vehicle built:
The Grizzly – infantry carrier, The Cougar – British Scorpion tank turret equipped with a 76 mm main gun, The Husky – recovery vehicle.

GDLS-Canada’s 8×8 vehicles are called Light Armoured Vehicles, Better known as LAV. LAV is not a non-European designation of Piranha.

Since the production of the AVGP, GDLS-Canada have gone on to develop the LAV II & LAV III, which despite some similarity’s to the Swiss Piranha’s are GDLS’s own designs based on the AVGP and are not copies of Swiss Piranha’s.

The LAV II 8×8 was developed during the 1980’s and is known as the LAV-25 with the USMC, Coyote (Reconnaissance Vehicle) & Bison (infantry carrier) in Canada and ASLAV in Australia.

The Canadian LAV III 8×8 Infantry Fighting Vehicle Development


The LAV III was developed in the late 1990’s for the Canadian Forces and also is in service with the New Zealand Army. It serves as both armies principal Infantry Fighting Vehicle. The US Army Stryker is a lighter armoured version of the vehicle.

The LAV III offered greater payload carrying capabilities, but most importantly a higher level of protection over other LAV vehicles and non LAV APC’s in service at the time with the Canadian Army. It was purchased to replace all other ageing troop carrying vehicles in the Canadian Army. The base vehicle offered all round protection of 7.62mm fire and with its MEXAS passive armour modules, it could withstand 12.7mm fire. The success of the series has been its high mobility and adaptability to serve other mission roles.

The Canadian LAV III 8×8 Infantry Fighting Vehicle Operators

Canada –

LAV III Canada national procurement between 1998 and 2006

The Canadian Army is the largest operator of LAV III vehicles with 651 delivered to date. Infantry Carriers (313), Command Post (181), TOW missile carrier (71), Forward Observation (47), and Engineer Variants (39). A number of vehicles are currently going through an upgrade program (see entry below).

The Canadian Army has deployed over 100 LAV III to Afghanistan with its contribution (which has been a major presence) to ISAF. The war and its terrain have had a heavy toll on the LAV III, to the point that a reported 33% were out of service at one time. Canada completed its ISAF participation in March 2014.

The “LAV UP” upgrade (see entry below) will extend the LAV III life span and Canaian Army service to 2035.

Colombia –

24 vehicles prdered in January 2013 and will be APC armed with the Samson RWS with M2 Browning machine guns and a Double-V shaped armour in the rear hull to deflect blast effects away from the crew compartment.

New Zealand –

Designated NZLAV, GDLS-Canada supplied 104 vehicles between 2003 to 2004. The NZ Army deplyed a number of vehicles to Afghanistan between 2009 to 2013 as part of their contribution to ISAF. All vehicles are now back in New Zeland.

Saudi Arabia –

19 LAV III delivered in 2001

“LAV UP”LAV III Upgrade Program (Canadian Service)

The Canadian Army has been heavily committed to the efforts in Afghanistan for a number of years, which of course means the deployment of the LAV III. Though the vehicle has had some level of success, sadly there have been some losses of crew & troops during IED attacks, as well as taking some serious punishment from the harsh Afghanistan enviroment.

In late November 2008, Canada’s Department of National Defence (DND) announced its intention to combine 3 programs into one general set of upgrades to its armoured vehicle fleets. The C$ 5 billion program would include a “close combat vehicle,” in order to perform as a tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicle or Armored Personnel Carrier alongside Canada’s new Leopard 2A6M CAN & Leopard 2A4M CAN tanks, a new “Tactical Armored Patrol Vehicle” and upgrades to the existing LAV-III wheeled APC fleet.

On the 21st of October 2011 General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada was awarded a contract by The Canadian Department of National Defence valued at C$1.064 billion (US$1.052 billion) to incorporate a comprehensive upgrade package into the Canadian Army’s fleet of LAV III combat vehicles. The LAV III Upgrade Project will modernize 550 vehicles, significantly enhancing their survivability, mobility and firepower and extending the fleet’s lifecycle to 2035.

  • The original LAV III powerplant – a 350 hp, 7.2L Caterpillar 3126 6-cyl – has been replaced by a  450 hp  Cat C-9 diesel.
  • New much-enlarged coolant radiator
  • Added armour protection or the running gear changes needed to cope with the resulting weight
  • Hatches for the gunner and vehicle commander are now in a raised ‘box’ on the turret top
  • Double-V shaped armour in the rear hull to deflect blast effects away from the crew compartment
  • Addition of more Energy-Attenuating Seats
  • Improved fire control, thermal, day and low-light sights, and data displays

The upgrade will extend the LAV III life span to 2035 and increase the level of protection to STANAG 4569 level 4 instead of the current level 3.

The first of 66 upgraded LAV IIIs was delivered on February 1, 2013. The success of the upgrade program and budget pressures lead to the cancellation of the Close Combat Vehicle replacement program later that year.

The Nanuk Remotely Controlled Weapon Station was developed in Canada and may well be gradually integrated in to the vehicle.

The Canadian LAV III 8×8 Infantry Fighting Vehicle Spec’s


Length: 7188 mm 283 in.
Width: 2616 mm 103 in.
Height: 2616 mm 103 in.
Curb weight: 14,243 kg 31,400 lbs
Combat weight GVW: 17,237 kg 38,000 lbs


Governed speed: 100 kph 62 mph
Maximum range: 502 km 312 miles
Minimum turn
diameter: 17 m 55.8 ft.
Maximum trench
crossing: 2 m 6.5 ft.
Maximum grade: 60%
Maximum side slope: 30%

Power Train & Suspension

Engine: 350 hp
Transmission: 6 speeds forward
1 reverse
Transfer case: 2 speed
Differentials: 4 automotive
Tires: 1200 R20 CTIS
Suspension: 8 wheel independent
– pneumatic, with
optional height
management system

Air Transportability


Fire Suppression

• Halon 1301
• AFES crew & engine compartments
automatically activated

Climate Control System

Air Conditioning/Heater


10 total –
1 driver
1 vehicle commander
1 gunner
7 troops


Interior: CARC white
Exterior: CARC (green camouflage
pattern) (option)


• M242 25mm chain gun linked
with Thermal Imaging Sight
• M240 7.62mm machine gun
mounted coaxially to the
main gun
• M249 5.56mm or M240 7.62mm
machine gun (pintle mounted)
• (2) 76mm Smoke and
Fragmentation Grenade
(Clusters of 4 launchers each)


Ready: (8) 76mm Smoke Grenades
440 rounds 7.62mm
210 rounds 25mm

On Vehicle Equipment

• GIDIII (option)
• RADIAC Detector (option)
• CSAM System (option)

ATGM Wire Cutter

1 driver
1 turret


Self-recovery Hydraulic Winch


• (3) M-17 periscopes
• (1) DVA (thermal) (option)
(fit to receive DVE)

Vehicle Commander:
• (7) M-27 periscopes
• Sight with Thermal Display
• (1) GEN III Image
Intensification Sight

• (1) M-27 periscope
• Thermal Imager
• (1) Through Sight ELITE II Laser
Range Finder

Communication & Land Navigation Equipment

Radios provisioned per customer requirements

The Canadian LAV III 8×8 Infantry Fighting Vehicle Variants

• Infantry Carrier
• Commander’s Vehicle
• Anti-tank Guided Missile Vehicle
• Reconnaissance
• Mortar Carrier – 120 mm
• Mortar Carrier – 81 mm
• Fire Support Vehicle
• Engineer Squad
• Recovery
• Medical Evacuation
• Medical Treatment
• NBC Reconnaissance
• Mobile Gun System
• Self Propelled Howitzer