Built by General Dynamics Land Systems in the 1980s, to date, the light armored vehicle (LAV-25) in the US military has many variants.

Based on the LAV-25, the highly mobile LAV-AT anti-tank missile complex was developed, intended to take down main battle tanks and fixed fortifications. The LAV-AT was accepted into service with the United States Marine Corps in the mid-1980s.

The LAV-AT does not differ much from the LAV-25 in terms of layout, but has a special “hammerhead” missile launcher. The LAV-AT features the same Emerson 901 Hammerhead missile launcher as developed for use on the M901 Improved TOW Vehicle. This turret has two TOW wire-guided missiles ready to launch. An additional 14 missiles are carried internally. The TOW missile has a range of 3.75 km. Over time these vehicles were upgraded to fire the TOW-2 series of missiles. The launcher is lowered when on the move, and raised in the firing position.

For self-defense there is a 7.62mm M240 machine gun on a pintle mount. The crew of four consist of a commander, driver, gunner and loader. The engine and driver are located at the front, the rest of the crew in the middle and the launcher and additional missiles are further at the rear.

Armor of the LAV-AT provides all-round protection against 7.62 rounds and artillery shell splinters. The front arc withstands 12.7 mm rounds. Vehicle also has NBC protection and automatic fire suppression systems. Vehicle has a night fighting capability and can be operated in all weather conditions.

The LAV-AT is powered by a Detroit Diesel 6V53T turbocharged diesel engine, developing 275 hp. Maximum speed on roads is 100 km/h and the operational range is 650 km. Vehicle is fitted with a central tyre inflation system and run-flat tyres. Its mobility allows to keep pace with main battle tanks and reconnaissance forces. The LAV-AT is amphibious and its two propellers allow for a speed of up to 10 km/h in the water.

The LAV-AT can be airlifted by a C-130 Hercules or larger transport aircraft. It can be also carried underslung by a CH-53E helicopter. A total of 95 vehicles were produced for the USMC. These vehicles became operational in the late 1980’s and remain in service today. Currently the US Army uses a similar anti-tank missile carrier – the M1134 Stryker. It has a different launcher and is mounted on a Striker ICV 8×8 chassis. This system entered service with the US Army in the mid-2000.


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