Canada Converting LAV-III TUAVs to Infantry Carriers
The Canadian Department of National Defence has awarded Genertal Dynamics Land Systems – Canada a C$ 49.2 million (about $46.3 million) contract to take 33 of the 71 LAV-III chassis originally manufactured under a previous contract for LAV-III TOW Under Armour (TUA) vehicles, and use them as infantry carriers, instead of inegrating the Kvaerner TUA turret from older M113s. GDLS Canada will oversee the LAV-III TUAV conversion and act as the lead integrator. Rheinmetall Canada of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, will supply the Remote Weapon Station, which will feature a universal gun cradle capable of mounting 5.56, 7.62 and 12.7 mm armaments and a cooled thermal sight system. Delivery of the converted Infantry Section Carriers will occur from June 2008 – March 2009. GDLS release.
The LAV-III is known as the Piranha-III in Europe, and is also the base platform for the USA’s Styker family of vehicles; the nearest equivalent to the LAV-III TUAV would be the USA’s M1134 Stryker ATGM (Anti-Tank Guided Missile). Canada’s LAV-IIIs, however, have displayed mixed performance in Afghanistan. Their mobility and 25mm autocannon fire support has proven useful on the roads and in cities, but the vehicle is unable to handle significant swathes of Afghan terrain, and is prone to high wear if used off-road. That last issue may help to explain the current conversion project instead of options like installing NEMO 120mm mortar turrets, and these mobility issues were also the catalyst for Canada’s recent decisions to deploy Leopard C2 (1A5) tanks in theater, scrap the LAV-III Mobile Gun System and MMEV projects, and purchase Leopard 2A4/2A6 tanks.