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Marine Corps Explores LAV Upgrades

United States Marine Corps representatives are exploring a range of potential lethality and performance enhancements to elements of its eight-wheeled amphibious Light Armored Vehicle (LAV) family.

One recent market survey announcement targets possible enhancements to the Light Armored Vehicle – Mortar (LAV-M), the LAV variant that provides organic indirect fire assets within the Light Armored Reconnaissance (LAR) Company.

Identified as the Indirect Fire Modernization (IFM) Program, the announcement seeks “information regarding the availability of an upgraded USMC LAV-M “by replacing the M252 81mm mortar system with an 81mm mortar system that can provide greater range and responsiveness.”

One of the areas identified for improvement in any new design involves a range increase over the current M252. No specific range increase has been quantified at this time. Rather, planners are using the process “to determine the state-of-art range capability of currently available 81 mm mortar systems or of mortar systems that will be available in the near future with minimal development effort.”

Describing LAV-M capabilities as being able “to deliver indirect fires to mark, harass, neutralize, or destroy threat forces so that the LAR unit can continue to perform its mission,” the announcement cautions that “Any mortar improvement solution must improve these capabilities and not degrade the LAV’s core vehicle automotive performance, mobility, survivability, and operations of any Family of LAV subsystems.”

“To minimize the integration impact to the vehicle and crew the existing LAV-M 81mm mortar system will be replaced with an improved 81mm mortar system,” it states. “This improvement approach will also minimize the potential of any reduction of LAV-M 81mm mortar stowage capacities.”

One of the areas identified for improvement in any new design involves a range increase over the current M252. No specific range increase has been quantified at this time. Rather, planners are using the process “to determine the state-of-art range capability of currently available 81 mm mortar systems or of mortar systems that will be available in the near future with minimal development effort.”

Along with the exploration of LAV-M lethality enhancements, the service is also investigating a fleet-wide upgrade packaged dubbed “Survivability III.” The package acknowledges the degradation of automotive performance and reliability resulting from the LAV “A2” appliqué armor packages, seeking to restore original system performance through possible replacement of powerpack and suspension systems.

Noting that the improved system must be capable of delivering all 81 mm common rounds currently in USMC service (including M821A2, M889A1, M889A2, M816, M853A1, M879, and M880 mortar cartridges), the announcement adds that “Unique ammunition would be considered if required to achieve the proposed range improvements, without compromising existing fuze functionality, lethality, illumination capability, or obscuration capability and without significant loss in precision.”

Additional features desired in any LAV-M enhancement include: reduced time to assemble/set up and operate the stowed mortar system; some level of digital fire control system to help automate the sighting/targeting processes; minimal effort to disassemble and stow mortar system when mission is completed; ability to provide 360 degree field of fire from within the vehicle; and “Any other improvements that aid in the mortar system set-up, operation, and/or improvement of the ability to engage the enemy at both short range and long range distances.“

Along with the exploration of LAV-M lethality enhancements, the service is also investigating a fleet-wide upgrade packaged dubbed “Survivability III.” The package acknowledges the degradation of automotive performance and reliability resulting from the LAV “A2” appliqué armor packages, seeking to restore original system performance through possible replacement of powerpack and suspension systems.

In addition to performance aspects, the program addresses obsolescence issues stemming from the fact that the current LAV engine, the Detroit Diesel 6V53T, reportedly will not be produced after next year and the current transmission, the Allison 653DR, is out of production.

According to a recently-released request for information, “Although the upgrade centers on replacement of the powerpack and suspension systems, other vehicle components (such as steering system, braking system, drivetrain, and transfer case) will also need to be addressed.  In addition, other capabilities (such as driver-station-controlled systems for tire inflation and ride height adjustment) will be added.”

The announcement notes that the Survivability III upgrade is envisioned for application to the entire fleet of LAVs (approximately 1,000 total) in seven different mission role configurations.

By

Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...

    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1" id="comment-12479">

    They need CROWS on top of at least one unit in a patrol and v shaped bottoms, like the Bushmaster has

    li class="comment byuser comment-author-chuck-oldham odd alt thread-odd thread-alt depth-1" id="comment-12510">

    The flat bottom is a problem, no question, but it’s more than an upgrade to change a flat-bottomed LAV into a v-bottomed one. That essentially would mean investing in an extensive rebuild and a commitment to the LAV for at least a decade, and with commitment of limited funds to the Marine Personnel Carrier and the Armored Combat Vehicle replacement for the AAV7, plus modernization of the existing AAV7, there is just no money for such an extensive modification.