The LAV III entered service with the Canadian Army in 1999. At some point Canadian Army operated 651 of these armored vehicles in various versions.
Armored personnel carrier is like a “battlefield taxi”, it is responsible for transporting soldiers from base to battlefield and vice versa. Therefore, protecting soldiers and crews during the operation is vital. Among dozens of APC models operating around the world, LAV III Kodiak is one of the most prominent vehicles.
The Canadian Kodiak LAV III is a state-of-the-art combat vehicle manufactured by the Canadian branch of General Dynamics, this armored personnel carrier is a license produced version of Swiss MOWAG Piranha IIIH. The LAV III Kodiak’s mission is to transport infantry onto the battlefield while providing defensive protection and providing offensive firepower. The vehicle is well protected and can be used as day and night in any weather, on a smoke-covered battlefield and on most types of terrain. When serving as an infantry section transport, the LAV III is deployed with a crew commander, a gunner, a driver and seven infantrymen. When deployed as a tactical command post, it carries six soldiers. Export operators of the LAV III are USA and New Zealand. The US Army uses a modified variant, called Stryker, which is fitted with remote weapon station in place of the turret.
In the early 1990s, the Canadian Armed Forces had identified the need to replace their aging fleet of 1960s and 1970s era armoured personnel carriers. The M113 APC, Lynx reconnaissance vehicles, Grizzly and Bison APC have gradually become obsolete. As a result, the army embarked on the Light Armoured Vehicle Project, the first phase of the project saw the selection of the Coyote Reconnaissance Vehicle to replace the Lynx.
On August 16, 1995, it was announced that General Motors Diesel Division had been awarded the contract to produce the LAV III which would replace the Grizzly and a large portion of the M113 armoured personnel carriers. The LAV III would incorporate the turret and weapon system used with the Coyote Reconnaissance Vehicle.
The LAV III entered service with the Canadian Army in 1999. At some point Canadian Army operated 651 of these armored vehicles in various versions. It became the primary Canadian mechanized infantry vehicle, forming the backbone of the Canadian armored vehicle fleet.
Based on Switzerland’s successful MOWAG Piranha III, LAV III is full of qualities of its predecessor. The APC is a 17 ton vehicle with a length of 22.10 feet, a width of 8.9 feet and a height of 9 feet. The standard operating crew is three with seating for an additional seven.
The vehicle is fitted with 8×8 drive and also equipped with a central tire inflation system, which allows it to adjust to different terrain, including off-road. It is also equipped with a modern anti-locking brake system and a traction control system. Being equipped with wheels offer several advantages over tracked vehicles, including lower maintenance for both the vehicle and road infrastructure, quieter movement for improved stealth, greater speed over good terrain, and higher ground clearance. Wheeled vehicle crews are also more likely to survive mine or IED attacks than the crew of a similarly armoured tracked vehicle. Unlike earlier versions of the LAV, the LAV III does not have amphibious capabilities.
The Kodiak has improved armor protection, comparing with previous Swiss MOWAG Piranhas. Basic armor provides all-round protection against 7.62 mm rounds. A ceramic add-on armor can be installed for a higher level of protection. It protects against 14.5 mm machine guns fire. Some sources claim, that front armor of the Kodiak with add-on armor plates can withstand hits from 30 mm cannons. It makes the LAV III one of the most protected armored personnel carrier in the world. This armored vehicle can be also fitted with a cage armor, which provides protection against anti-tank rockets. Vehicle is fitted with an automatic fire suppression system and NBC protection system.
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The Kodiak is armed with a 25mm M242 chain gun in a powered two-man turret over the hull. Secondary armament is a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun and a 7.62mm caliber roof gun.
The LAV III also has eight 76mm grenade launchers in two clusters of four launchers positioned on each side of the turret. The grenade launchers are intended for smoke grenades. In 2009, a number of LAV III’s were modified with a Nanuk remotely controlled weapon station (RCWS) to provide better protection and to increase the chances of survival of the crew against improvised explosive devices and anti-tank mine threats on the battlefield.
The vehicle is equipped with a daytime optical Thermal Imaging System and Generation III Image Intensification. In addition, it is equipped with a Tactical Navigation System to assist in navigation and target location tasks. LCD monitors connect directly to the vehicle’s external camera, providing real-time images of the battlefield for passengers.The LAV III is powered by a Caterpillar 3126 diesel engine developing up to over 400 horsepower and can reach speeds above 100 kilometres per hour. It is considered one of the safest and most well-rounded vehicles of its kind in the world.