The LAV-25 (Light Armored Vehicle) is an eight-wheeled amphibious armored reconnaissance vehicle used by the United States Marine Corps, United States Army, and the Canadian Army. It was built by General Dynamics Land Systems Canada, developed from the Canadian built AVGP versions of the Swiss MOWAG Piranha 6x6 family of armored fighting vehicles.
During the 1980s, the U.S. Marine Corps began looking for a light armored vehicle to give their divisions greater mobility. They chose the Light Armored Vehicle design from GM Defense. It entered service with the Marines in 1983. The U.S. Army was interested in these vehicles at the time, but did not order any—although they did later with the introduction of the Stryker family of vehicles. The Army did, however, borrow at least a dozen LAV-25s for use by the 82nd Airborne Division, 3-73rd Armor for a Scout Platoon during the Gulf War. These LAV-25s were later returned to the Marine Corps after the conflict. The USMC ordered 758 vehicles of all variants. LAVs first saw combat during the Invasion of Panama in 1989, and continued service in the Gulf War, Iraq War, and the War in Afghanistan.
The table of organization and equipment for an USMC light-armored reconnaissance battalion includes 56 LAV-25s, 16 LAV-ATs, 12 LAV-Ls, 8 LAV-Ms, 4 LAV-Rs, 4 LAV-C2s, and an unknown number of LAV-MEWSS vehicles.
The LAV platform is planned to remain in service with the Marine Corps until 2035. The Marines aim to have prototypes for the LAV's replacement, dubbed the Armored Reconnaissance Vehicle (ARV), by 2023. The ARV is planned to be a networked family of wheeled vehicles capable of performing various mission sets, with 500 to be procured.
Powered by a 6V53T Detroit Diesel turbo-charged engine, they are four-wheel drive (rear wheels) transferable to Eight-wheel drive. These vehicles are also amphibious, meaning they have the ability to "swim", but are limited to non-surf bodies of water (no oceans). While engaged in amphibious operations, the maximum speed is approximately 12 km/h (7.5 mph) using equipped propellers. The current Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) modifications will hinder or eliminate amphibious ops.
Typical land speeds are approximately 100 km/h (62.5 mph) in either 4- or 8-wheel drive; however, fuel economy decreases in 8-wheel drive. The vehicles operate on diesel fuel. They are equipped with a M242 Bushmaster 25 mm autocannon, two M240 7.62 mm machine guns, and two 4-barrel smoke grenade launchers located on the forward left and right sides of the turret. The crew is three; vehicle commander (VC), gunner, and driver; and four passengers (scouts) with combat gear.
Standard LAV fitted with a turret with 360° traverse, armed with an M242 25 mm chain gun with 420 rounds of 25 mm ammunition, both M791 APDS-T (Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot-Tracer) and M792 HEI-T (High Explosive Incendiary-Tracer), of which half is ready for use. One hundred fifty rounds are ready for use from one stowage bin, 60 from another stowage bin, the other 210 rounds are stowed elsewhere in the vehicle. A coaxial M240C machine gun is mounted alongside the M242, and a pintle-mounted M240B/G machine gun, with 1,320 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition, is mounted on the turret roof. The Canadian Army uses an upgraded version of this chassis for its Coyote Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle.