Iraq: Looking for LAVs in All the Right Places
In July 2008, Iraq submitted a slew of official requests to buy over $10 billion worth of American defense equipment, in order to equip its forces with tanks, armored cars, weapons, and even key infrastructure. In December 2008, additional requests reached the formal notification stage, while some of their July 2008 requests have been clarified or modified.
The volume of these announcements, and their content, strongly suggests an Iraqi military that is making significant strides in organization and responsibilities, and is beginning to order the equipment to match. Gen. David Petraeus’ December 2008 presentation in Washington [Transcript | Slideshow] regarding the less recognized aspects of “the surge,” and the current situation in Iraq, would appear to back that up. Time will tell.
One of the requests that was modified by the December announcements was Iraq’s request for LAVs, similar to the amphibious vehicles used by the US Marine Corps…
Dec 10/08: The US DSCA announces [PDF] Iraq’s formal request for 400 Stryker (modified LAV-III) vehicles, as part of a larger order. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $1.11 billion.
The new request includes: 400 M1126 Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicles (ICVs), which replace the array of LAVs Iraq had been seeking. An accompanying request for 400 M2HB .50 cal Heavy Machine Guns would equip the Stryker ICVs with their standard defensive weapon, which is usually mounted in one of Kongsberg M151 Protector remote-controlled weapon turrets. Note that an order for those turrets would not require a US DSCA announcement, if it is placed with the Norwegian firm for manufacture in Norway.
This request also includes 400 M1117 Armored Security Vehicles (up from 160 in July 2008), and 8 Heavy Duty Recovery Trucks, in addition to spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical data, personnel training and training equipment, contractor engineering and technical support services, and other related elements of logistics support.
General Dynamics Land Systems representatives have confirmed to DID that the previously-requested LAV-25s and associated specialty variants are no longer an item of interest for Iraq. While this might seem to be a straightforward swap of LAV-III Strykers for LAV-25s etc., the destination is different. The LAV-25s and other vehicles were intended to equip Iraqi Army armored reconnaissance – but this order is specifically for Iraq’s National Police, as it seeks to expand its number of mechanized brigades:
“The proposed sale of the Stryker ICVs, along with the munitions and support vehicles, will be used to develop a viable police force…”
If true, DJ Elliott of The Long War Journal points out that the Iraqi National Police already have 4 mechanized battalions, and 800 vehicles would equip 20 more. At 4 battalions per brigade, and 3 brigades per division, that’s 2 mechanized divisions of INP.
July 30/08: The US DSCA announced [PDF] Iraq’s formal request fo the same kind of amphibious wheeled armored personnel carriers used by the US Marines, as well as associated services and some replacement equipment.
The estimated cost, if contracts are concluded for all items, is up to $3 billion. The principal contractors will include General Dynamics in Warren, MI; Armatec in London, Ontario, Canada; BAE Systems in London, United Kingdom; Force Protection in Ladson, SC; Oshkosh Trucks in Oshkosh, WI; and Raytheon in Waltham, MA. Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of 24 contractor representatives to Iraq for a period of 2 years. The exact request involves:
- 352 LAV-25s. This is the standard wheeled LAV APC used by the US Marines, which includes a 25mm cannon in the top turret. LAVs and associated equipment are manufactured by General Dynamics and Armatec. Although Iraq does have T-72 tanks and tacked BMP-1 APCs, its recent APC order pattern is strongly stressing wheeled vehicles (BTR-3, M1117, LAVs), which are easier to use in cities and along roads one wishes to protect. It is not yet clear if this order supersedes Iraq’s earlier request for wheeled BTR-3 APCs from the Ukraine and United Arab Emirates, which are more heavily armed than the LAVs.
- 24 LAV-CC command variant. Sacrifices the cannon in exchange for a raised roof and communication gear.
- 16 LAV-A Ambulance variant. Also more lightly armed. Ambulance specialist.
“The following are considered replacements to vehicles/weapons requested in the Military Table of Equipment (MTOE):”
- 5 LAV-R Recovery vehicles. No turret, but it does have a crane arm used for towing or winching other vehicles out if they get stuck or damaged.
- 4 LAV-L Logistics vehicles, with no turret and a raised roof. Designed to provide ammunition, rations and POL (petroleum, oil and lubricant) supplies for the LAV units they accompany.
- 2 MRAP Vehicles. These would be Badger ILAVs, a Cougar variant offered by Force Protection and BAE Systems.
- 41 Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR) medium trucks. Oshkosh makes the MTVR, which forms the backbone of the US Marines’ medium truck fleet.
- 2 MK19 40mm Grenade Machine Guns. General Dynamics ATP makes these.
- 773 9mm Pistols. Maker and model unspecified. If Iraq follows the USA’s lead, it would be the Beretta – but previous requests have been for Glock 17s.
- 93 M240G 7.62mm Machine Guns. The M240 family are made by FN Herstal, and its FN Manufacturing, LLC subsidiary handles orders in the USA. They are the USA’s standard coaxial machine guns for turrets, and are also used pintle-mounted on vehicles and helicopters. They can also be used by dismounted troops, if removed from their pintle mount. This is not Iraq’s first request for the M240.
- 10 AR-12 rifles. This one was frankly puzzling. Armalite does manufacture the AR-15 commercial replicas of the 5.56mm M16/M4 family, and the similar 7.62mm AR-10 set. There was reportedly an AR-12 design at one point, but Armalite confirms that it does not offer an AR-12 for sale.
- Plus unspecified ammunition, construction, site survey, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical data, personnel training and training equipment, and other support.
- The Long War Journal (Aug 4/08) – Iraqi Security Forces Order of Battle: August 2008 Update . Overall analysis of Iraq’s recent purchases, and their likely destinations.