Country of origin
Canada (hull) and USA (turret)
Dimensions and weight
Length (gun forward)
2 x 7.62-mm
Maximum firing range
Maximum rate of fire
- 8 to + 15 degrees
1 000 rounds
Maximum road speed
Amphibious speed on water
~ 5 km/h
Intended to form the fire support component of the US Marine
Corps (USMC), the LAV-105 was to use a 105-mm gun to engage a wide
range of targets that for which the weapons on the other LAVs were
unsuitable, which as structures, troop concentrations, and hostile
armor at close range.
The USMC's interest in such a vehicle was as old as the LAV
program itself, but it wasn't solidified into an official
requirement until 1988, as the "LAV-AG" (Light Armored Vehicle,
Assault Gun). While the chassis was to be the same General Motors
(now General Dynamics Land Systems) LAV I and the gun to be used was
the XM35, the USMC accepted competing bids for the turret. Cadillac
Gage was declared the winner of the competition, effectively
finalizing the design of the LAV-105. A 40-month full-scale
engineering development contract with that company was signed, and
the first 3 vehicles were to be delivered for USMC operational
testing by May of 1992. However, it was not accepted into service,
for reasons elaborated upon below.
The LAV I hull of the LAV-105 is essentially identical to
that of the LAV-25, with the only notable change being the addition of a
couple of small pontoons to the sides, to compensate for the weight
of the turret. The Cadillac Gage turret is a reduced-size version of
that used on that company's
Commando Stingray light tank and
V-600 fire support vehicle. The proportions of the turret were
significantly reduced to allow LAV-105 to conform to the USMC's size
requirements for the LAV I family, and also had the additional
benefit of reducing the vehicle's overall weight (relative to a
standard Stingray turret). Both the gunner and vehicle commander
have their own hatch, along with the driver, allowing all three
crewmen to immediately enter or exit the vehicle simultaneously.
The turret traverses 360 degrees in 6 seconds, with gun
elevation from -8° to +15°. The main gun and coaxial gun are
stabilized in 2 planes, allowing the LAV-105 to fire on the move
with great accuracy. Both the turret motors and gun trunnion motors
were electric, which not only eliminated the need for hydraulic
fluid and the potential for troublesome hydraulic leaks, but also
greatly increased the crew and vehicle's survivability and safety
margins (most armored fighting vehicle crew casualties have
historically been the result of fires, and most of these fires in
turn were fueled by burning hydraulic fluid).
The main gun is a Waverliet XM35, the same 105-mm/L52 gun
used on the
Buford light tank. The XM35 is a low-recoil force gun, as
opposed to a low-pressure gun; meaning, instead of requiring
reduced-charge ammunition, its recoil absorption mechanisms allow it
to fire full-power NATO 105-mm tank ammunition with a
sharply-reduced recoil. The weapon is fed by an autoloader developed
by Fairey Hydraulics Limited (FHL), with a reload delay of 7.5
seconds. Spent casings are ejected horizontally through an ejection
port in the turret bustle, as on the M8. It is also possible for the
commander or gunner to manually override the autoloader and cycle
ammunition manually in the event of a malfunction, though this takes
considerably longer. The weight of the entire autoloader system is
only 145 kg. Included with the main gun was a 7.62-mm
coaxial machine gun, fed by 200-round belts. Provisions were also
included for a 12.7-mm
the turret roof, and stowage for its 12.7-mm ammunition, but it does
not appear that this weapon was ultimately integrated into the
prototypes. Two quadruple-tube M257 smoke mortars were installed on
the turret glacis plate.
ammunition loadout was 30 105-mm shells and 1 000 7.62mm rounds. The
autoloader has a ready ammunition capacity of 8 shells, while the
other 22 shells are stowed inside the replenisher. 400 7.62mm rounds
are carried as ready ammunition, with the remaining 600 being
control system included a digital ballistics computer, an eye-safe
laser rangefinder, and a day/night range sight system with both
conventional optics, a HIRE 240-line passive thermal imaging system,
an LSSP (Line of Sight Stabilization Platform) sight stabilization
system, and a Commander's Independent Thermal Viewer (CITV). The
CITV can also be used as gunnery sights, which gives the LAV-105 a
"hunter-killer" capability when combined with the vehicle
commander's override. Interestingly, all of the components of this
fire control system were Raytheon products.
Protection for the
LAV-105 is essentially the same as that of the
LAV-25. The hull
armor is made of the same Bisalloy 500 steel, providing protection
from 7.62-mm armor-piercing rounds, shell splinters, shrapnel, and debris, while
the turret is protected by Cadillac Gage's patented Cadloy steel, at
a great enough thickness to defeat 12.7-mm ball ammunition. Twaron
spall liners are included as well, eliminating or at least reducing
any back-spalling in the interior.
The mobility and performance of the LAV-105 is largely the
same as the other LAV Is, due to having an identical chassis,
powertrain, and suspension. The obvious difference is the extra
weight, and the additional ground pressure it entails; tipping the
scales at 16 t, the LAV-105 has the unenviable distinction of
being the only LAV I variant for the US Marine Corps that's too
heavy to be sling-loaded under a
CH-47 Chinook or
Finally, while the LAV-105 was officially amphibious, no photos,
videos, or other documentation indicates it ever swam through deep
water, and the addition of pontoons to increase the vehicle's
buoyancy have further increased the size and weight of the vehicle.
However, while the LAV-105 was perhaps too heavy for the
needs of the USMC, it was two other factors that were ultimately
The first was simply poor timing. The Cold War ended before
the first vehicles could be delivered, and the resulting budget cuts
forced the Marines to terminate the remaining funding cut from their
budget. The Navy nonetheless relinquished US$33.8 million to the LAV-AG
program in 1993, to acquire and test the first three vehicles.
Of course, had timing and this been the sole problem, the
LAV-105 might well have entered service at a much later date, but
the second problem was much more serious. It wasn't discovered until
the Marines finally began to fire live ammunition from the LAV-105
in the mid-1990s that the LAV I chassis and suspension could not
withstand the recoil of a 105-mm gun --- not even a low recoil force
gun. The recoil caused the vehicle to buck violently (reminiscent of
the M551 Sheridan light tank of earlier years), overwhelmed and
seriously damaged the suspension, and caused widespread stress
cracking throughout the chassis', including its Bisalloy 500 steel
The USMC later in the 1990s attempted to resurrect the LAV-AG
program later that decade, via the LAV-90. This vehicle was
essentially an LAV I equipped with the Cockerill turret, armed with
a smaller Mecar KEnerga 90-mm gun, but the test firings once again
overwhelmed the chassis and suspension. After once again rejecting
an LAV-AG candidate, the USMC and the industry quickly abandoned the
entire concept, and have apparently never spoken of it again.
later USMC attempt at a "remedial" fire support vehicle, with a
Cockerill turret sporting a KEnerga 90-mm gun. It was hoped that the LAV I could withstand the recoil of a smaller 90-mm gun, but this
too overwhelmed the chassis. Did not enter production or service.
many other vehicles in the same design category as the LAV-105.
Listed below are those most relevant to it.
light tank: Has a variant of the same turret as the LAV-105,
but a different L7A3 main gun. In service with Thailand.
light tank: Has the same gun as the LAV-105, but a different
turret, and also a different autoloader and replenisher. Did not
enter production or service.
light tank: Has the same gun as the LAV-105, but a different
turret, and no autoloader. Did not enter production or service.
fire support vehicle: Essentially the arch rival of the
LAV-105, the V-600 featured a V-300 chassis with a lowered roof,
topped with the same turret and main gun as the Stingray light tank.
Though it didn't have any of the recoil or structural issues of the
LAV-105, the V-600 nonetheless never attracted any sales. Did not
enter production or service.
Piranha III fire support vehicle: This late 1990s vehicle was
essentially the Belgian answer to the LAV-90, and consisted of a
Piranha III chassis with the same 90-mm Cockerill turret.
Unfortunately, it also had the same structural problems stemming
from the recoil of the 90-mm gun, and the Belgian Army did not accept
this vehicle into service. Did not enter production or service.
Piranha III DF90
fire support vehicle: This later Belgian Piranha III fire support
vehicle incorporated a new turret and recoil system, and was thus
finally able to tame the recoil of a 90-mm gun. It was selected for
operational service with the Belgian armed forces in 2006, and the
first deliveries commenced in 2008.
Mobile Gun System: A later and similar US Army vehicle
combining a Stryker chassis with a General Dynamics Land Systems (formerly Teledyne)
Profile Turret, armed with an M68E1 105-mm gun. This turret had
already shown poor results on the Teledyne
Expeditionary Tank and ASCOD, and unsurprisingly, it fared even worse on the Stryker ---
especially in that the M68E1 was *not* a low recoil force or
low-pressure gun, and the added "pepperpot" muzzle brake failed to
tame its 30-ton recoil. The Stryker MGS nonetheless entered service
with the US Army in small numbers, but its future is uncertain.
LAV III Mobile Gun System: This vehicle was essentially an LAV III with a
General Dynamics Land Systems Low Profile Turret, making functionally almost identical to the
Stryker MGS. After waiting more than 5 years for GDLS to fix the Low
Profile Turret and the M68E1 105-mm gun, and urgently needing new
vehicles for fire support missions in Afghanistan, the Canadian
Forces abandoned the LAV III MGS; the funding meant for it was
diverted to an upgrade for their
main battle tanks, and an additional
Leopard 2A6s. Did not enter production or service.
AMX-10RC: This was one of the first wheeled
reconnaissance vehicles to
employ a 105-mm gun. Early models used a low-pressure gun, while
later models employed a low recoil force weapon. It was also a major
inspiration for the LAV-AG program. Even though it only had 6x6
configuration, the AMX-10RC was able to withstand a 105-mm gun's recoil,
owing to the fact that it was a major design objective in the
creation of both its chassis and suspension. Several nations have
operated this vehicle, and it remains in active service.
Zhalo-S: This Soviet 8x8 fire support vehicle was based on
the BTR-70 chassis, and was essentially the direct counterpart of
the LAV-105 in the Eastern Block. Unfortunately, its 85-mm gun also
had too much recoil for its suspension to withstand, ultimately
leading to the program's termination. Did not enter production or
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