Development was started in the 1990s by Komatsu, based on a 4×4 Toyota Mega Cruiser chassis and is heavily modified.
As a leading military power in East Asia, Japan attaches great importance to its mobile ground units. To add more modern facilities to the motorized units, in 2002, nearly 2,000 Komatsu LAVs were put into service. These vehicles are especially suitable for urban warfare, as well as front-line reconnaissance and utility duties.
Komatsu LAV is classified as a light armored vehicle. Development was started in the 1990s by Komatsu, based on a 4×4 Toyota Mega Cruiser chassis and is heavily modified. It is quite similar to Panhard VBL serving in the French Army. The vehicle weighs about 4.5 tons, has a length of 4.4 m, a width of 2.04 m, and a height of 1.85 m. The Komatsu LAV is used to transport armoured infantry troops in the battlefield, with a crew of 4 plus a driver.
The Komatsu LAV has open-split roof hatch of the vehicle provides additional protection to the gunner from all directions, if it is locked in an upright position. The vehicles deployed in Iraq are fitted with reinforced bulletproof windshields, wire cutters and an armoured tub around the gun mount for extra protection. According to reports, the vehicle is bulletproof against 5.56 and 7.62 bullets. It is unknown whether other bullet calibers can easily penetrate the LAV or not.
The Komatsu LAV can be armed with the Sumitomo M249 LMG or Sumitomo M2HB 12.7mm machine gun for anti-personnel duties. It can also mount the Type 01 LMAT or a Kawasaki Type 87 anti-tank missile for anti-armored missions. Smoke grenade dischargers can be mounted on the rear sides of the vehicle.
As with all Japanese military equipment the LAV is only used by Japan and has not been exported due to self-imposed restrictions on foreign military equipment sales. The Komatsu LAV had made its first appearance in Kuwait when JGSDF units had deployed the Komatsu LAV prior to humanitarian operations in Samawah, a city in Iraq, 280 km southeast of Baghdad.