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Should Canada adopt the LAV III (AKA: Stryker) as its primary armoured vehicle family?

  • Thread starter Thread starter Brock
  • Start date Start date


This is a question of some debate. For some, the answer is simply, no. Many diehard military personnel in the Canadian Armed Forces believe that Canada should have a tracked military equipped with the newest and best main battle tanks (MBT), self-propelled howitzers (SPH), infantry fighting vehicles (IFV), and the associated combat service support tracked vehicles. Many of people that hold thes beliefs simply dismiss arguments for the adoption of an all wheeled armoured fleet as naive. However, I argue that Canada‘s military would be better off with the LAV III as the baseline armoured vehicles for all mechanized combat and combat support units. All tanks and all tracked vehicles, with the exception of the BV-206s, be deleted from our current inventory and a new set of military strategies and tactics be developed to employ the LAV III seried of wheeled armoured vehicles for all trades. This will rationalize logistics and drastically reduce training costs.

Right now the Canada‘s CBMGs consist of a hodge podge of mixed units equipped with LAV III‘s on the way for the infantry, M113s, some Coyotes, some Grizzlies and AVGP variants, some units are light infantry without vehicles, and a small number of tanks, about 20-30. This creates logistical nightmares and also costs a lot of money, becaue all units use the same armoured vehicles. A single baseline armoured vehicle will reduce VTech training costs and simplify parts procurement and shipping. In addtion LAV III is wheeled which costs less in terms of fuel and maintenance costs. The LAV III is much faster than any tracked vehicles for battlefield mobility. Tactical mobility across open ground is not however as good as a tank or the best tracked infantry fighting vehicles (IFV), but is better than M113s. They do get stuck more easily in soft terrain such as swamps, deep snow, or very soft sand. They do carry about the same armour and firepower as most modern IFVs (the LAV III Kodiak equipped with add-on armour provides protection from up to 30mm rounds). It is also well known that wheeled IFVs provide better overall protection from mines and have a better combat survivability rate than tracked IFVs due to their wheeled nature. As well, one must remember that soft terrain is not the modern battlefield and it is highly unlikely to be so in the future with 75% plus of the worlds population living in urban areas where the tracked vehicles better tactical mobility in soft terrain does not exist. One must also remember that LAV III is not a tank and therefore should not be used as a tank, therefore new tactics and strategies need to be developed if an all wheeled fleet is adopted.

But what about tanks? A LAV III can not replace tanks. Yes, a LAV III can not fullfill the same role as a tank, because it is not designed to. However, Canada does not need tanks if adopted new tactics and strategies. Tanks are designed to be able to go toe to toe with other tanks. They are extremely expensive to procure, maintain, and to operate. They are also required in large numbers to be effective. Canada‘s small numbers of around 125 divided amongst three brigade groups and a tank training unit does not provide Canada with the capability to employ tanks. There is still a place on the modern battlefield for MBTs, but not in Canada‘s army. Canada by maintainin an ineffective MBT capability wastes valuable military finnacial resources that could got towards providing a small number of attack and heavly lift helicopters which are not needed in massive numbers. What would provide direct fire support for the infantry without tanks, missiles are far too expensive? A version of the LAV III equipped with a 105mm cannon turret, either conventional or low profile. It retain the baseline LAV III vehicle, thus providing logistics commonality, and the firepower of a MBT for direct-fire support. Is it not more vulnerable to anti-tank missles than an MBT. Yes, it is, but due to the proliferation of heavy anti-tank weapons that can easily defeat even the most heavily armoured tanks, including US M1A2 Abrams, heavy armour is just as vulnerable. It must be stressed that combat units will use new tactics and strategy that minimizes their weaknesses and maximizes their capabilities rather than utilizing strategies that were designed for a type of warfare that doesn‘t exist today.

In addition, it most be noted that Canadian have trouble understanding why we need tanks and all the modern tracked IFVs, SPHs, and support vehicles that go with them. And rightly so, why should Canadian‘s pay to equip a military to fight wars that require tanks and are not likely to occur and that they do not want us involved in. Massive tank battles are the dreams of the "glory" days of warfare. The real battles today are low to medium intensity wars, but high intensity combat (i.e. people are still shooting at you), and peace support operations (PSO) gone wrong that tanks can‘t get to fast enough before the shooting ends. Many countries that require PSOs by the UN or NATO soldiers to help stabilze the country will not accept heavily armoured tracked military units, because that is considered a loss of their control and sovereingty. Canada‘s military industry would also be benefited, becuase the LAV III is a Canadian vehicle that can be bought for uninflated prices due to a bulk buy and help in securing foreing military sales for friendly nations.

This proposal of mine will no doubt be heavily criticized by those who support US style militarism, but please provide constructive criticism to this proposal/idea rather than just rhetoric. In addition. keep in mind that new tactics and strategies must be developed to make a an all LAV III fleet effective. Thanks, Brock
>and a new set of military strategies and tactics be developed to employ the LAV III seried of wheeled armoured vehicles for all trades

Without getting too deep into the weeds (I take issue with some of the "facts" above), think about this one.

Does one buy the tools for the job or choose only jobs which suit the tools? I do not regret decisions to buy equipment which suits the most common employment of our armed forces. But we shouldn‘t make what will amount to false assumptions by trying to shoehorn one equipment feature set into all battle roles. It is safer to admit that some jobs might need different equipment (eg. tracks, heavy armour protection, self-propelled artillery), and not attempt those jobs until we are prepared to buy the proper equipment.
Hi Brad,

Just to develop your comments, it was ironic that in the late 80‘s in CFE when it looked like the Armour Corp was next in line for new equipment after the Engineers, Inf, AD Arty and FMSU got their new kit. The concept of a Cdn Div Heavy Recce was tossed about. It was the principe that with new forthcoming generation armour in the order of battle, that the Leopards could be placed into a heavy recce role. Seeing as how the Lynx was on the chopping block, and the Iltis , well, you can guess.

Hmm, heavy recce, is that not when you have a tactical battle field superiority and you are attempting to draw the enemy into a confrontation, to eliminate them. Not using stealth and noise discipline too establish an enemies FEBA, especially if you happen to be in the middle of tactical NATO defensive withdrawl.

Never happened, thank god.

Just an example of the shoe horn theory, totally unsuited and impractical, but, with a bit of fine staff work and doctrine tweeking, it would have made sense, to someone.
I would have to say I‘m sitting on the fence with this one.
I do not belive that Canada can abandon all tracked vehicles as easily as you would suggest, Brock. Some specialized vehicles cannot be built on a LAV III chassis. Such vehicles include the AEV, AVLB, 155 mm self propelled howitzer, and the MBT. I do not belive that Canada should do without these vehicles either. You have phrased it nicely yourself when you said, "LAV III is not a tank and therefore should not be used as a tank." To assume that there will be no future need for a MBT is to suggest that one knows when, where, and how the next war will be fought. This is never the case.
Your argument does hold some merit however, and as I said, I‘m sitting on the fence with this one.
The potential of the LAV III is highlighted by the recent US decision to equip its medium mechanized brigades with the vehicle. To meet this need there are already a 105 mm FSV, Engineer section vehicle, CP, Ambulance, NBCD Recce, Mortar carrier, and other variants developed and available off-the-shelf. Additionally, the LAV III could be adapted to replace any other M113 variants serving in the CF.
BUT: the Americans were buying the right tool for the right job. Their plan was to establish rapidly deployable brigades that could get to the fight quicker than the M1A2 Abrams. The LAV brigades would deploy overseas and be capable of defeating lightly armed enemy forces or to delay heavy enemy forces (a la Western Europe defense against the red hoards) until additional forces could be shipped by boat from the US. The MBT is not eliminated from this scheme, nor is the armoured cavalry. A new element is added to fill the void in between.
How does this apply to Canada? If you belive we cannot afford multiple different levels of Mechanized Brigade groups (which we cannot) then you must leave the MBT within the Brigades as they now are and deploy them as needed. This would allow a brigade to upgrade from medium to heavy, through the arrival of its tanks, while deployed. Alternatively, you could suggest that all the MBT be concentrated within a single regiment (LdSH, because they have more room for tanks in the prairies) and have the army restructured into two medium brigades and one heavy. This would correct for the excessive dispersion of the current fleet of Leopards.

Some parting thoughts:
1. Why continue spending funds to train reservists the fire the 76 mm gun on the cougar when the vehicle should never se operational deployment again? Why not replace the turret with the Delco turret of the LAV III and Coyote? This would train reservists in the same gunnery techniques as their regular force counter parts and make it easier to integrate them in to units preparing for overseas duty.
2. The Australian LAV-25s have the same Delco turrets as on our LAV III, except that some also have TOW launchers on either side of the turret. If Canada had chosen those turrets for the LAV III (or at least on one per Inf Plt) it could have greatly increased tank killing capacity and thereby reduced dependency on MBTs.

"To be prepared everywhere, is to be weak everywhere."
Sun-Tzu ‘The Art of Warfare‘
It warms my heart to see someone who has studied this book.

Not to mock you in particular, however it disappoints me when I hear someone adopt a quote from it at an O Gp or on a crse. I will engage them afterwards and ask them to elaborate, to which a normal response is a stunned blank look, or occasionally, some keen young officer or sect commander will strike up a conversation.

Clive Milner when the Bge Comd for 1 CMBG had a habit of throwing out the odd qoute, must of had the Coles Notes version.

Sun-Tzu ‘The Art of Warfare‘
Brock said:

"The Canadian Armed Forces recently updated all of its Leopard C-1 MBTs to Leopard C-2 standard. In my opinion, this is merely another round of wishful thinking that it has the equipment and therefore capablility to fight a modern mechanized war with heavy armour MBTs and supporting vehicle‘s. Even tankers must admit that the Leopard C-2 supported Combat Brigades, even if fully equipped with Leopard C-2s, could not go toe-to-toe with a brigade equipped with modern MBTs and supporting AFVs such as the Leopard II‘s and Marder‘s or T-80‘s and BMP-3‘s that had crew of similar training. Canadian crew‘s would be decimated, even by a smaller force. The Leopard C-2 is merely an improved vintage late 1950‘s tank design. Why pretend that Canada has mechanized combat brigade groups that can fight "with the best against the best", when clearly we are not equipped to do so and it is highly ulikely that Canada will ever be.
"Canada would be much wiser to embrace the the interim combat brigade groups that the US is scrambling to create and has just recently ordered 2000 plus LAV III from Canada based Diesel Division General Motors to equip three brigade groups plus spares for training and attrition. These brigades fast and highly mobile, although in some area‘s tracked vehicle‘s enjoy advantages such as in severly swampy terrain. They are essentially modern day cavalry brigades supported by substantial numbers of infantry and combat support units such as artillery. These brigades are of use in all war scenarios, even high intensity conflict where they are able to act as quick strike brigades. Although they aren not able to go toe-to-toe with a heavy armour brigade equipped with modern MBTs and AIFV‘s they can easily run away if they meet stiff opposition. Yes, Canada loses the capabilty to fight even in a very limited heavy armour battle, but is it likely that Canada ever would and since we aren‘t equipped to do so what person would want to. When or if MBTs are not utilized by the CF, it is even more unlikely that any politician or officer would ever put the military into a situation where they must go toe-to-toe with a well-equipped mechanized armour brigade group.

"The LAV III should be adopted as the sole armoured vehicle in the Canadian Armoured Forces due to its excellent combination of more than adequate tactical mobility and fighting capability and its exceptional strategic mobility. In a high intensity situation Canada could offer battle or combat brigade goups entirely equipped with LAV III vehicles to act as fast strike units where tracked vehicles are too slow, without losing world influence to allies because of riding on past actions (ie. Desert Storm). In medium to low intensity conflicts LAV III equipped brigades are far superior to their tracked counterparts. And in peackeeping scneario the vast majority of parites will have no problem with a well equipped wheeled combat brigade on their homeland, but the many countries will not accept heavily armoured vehicles, because they signal a loss of control to the conflicting parties. Also, when things get out of hand these brigades are able to hold their own. Just my thoughts. Please provide yours, as other critiques could improve improve mine or show mine to be wrong."

I just felt that these comments from the Armour section added some depth to your position here, and provided some new ideas to consider.
It raises the questions for strong supporters of the MBT to answer: if our tanks can‘t do the job (of a modern MBT) then what should their role be (a mobile gun for the infantry?), or do replace them? and if we do with what?
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by 2 Charlie:
Hi Brad,

Just to develop your comments, it was ironic that in the late 80‘s in CFE when it looked like the Armour Corp was next in line for new equipment after the Engineers, Inf, AD Arty and FMSU got their new kit. The concept of a Cdn Div Heavy Recce was tossed about. It was the principe that with new forthcoming generation armour in the order of battle, that the Leopards could be placed into a heavy recce role. Seeing as how the Lynx was on the chopping block, and the Iltis , well, you can guess.

Hmm, heavy recce, is that not when you have a tactical battle field superiority and you are attempting to draw the enemy into a confrontation, to eliminate them. Not using stealth and noise discipline too establish an enemies FEBA, especially if you happen to be in the middle of tactical NATO defensive withdrawl.

Never happened, thank god.

Just an example of the shoe horn theory, totally unsuited and impractical, but, with a bit of fine staff work and doctrine tweeking, it would have made sense, to someone.

Heavy recce - a historical example of this was the South Alberta Regiment in WW II - they were officially the recce regiment of the 4th Armoured Division, but in practice they were equipped identically to an armoured regiment - all Shermans. It seems that their employment didn‘t much differ from an armoured regiment either.
Not to dampen our armour friends. But has anyone taken the time to really look at the actual upgrade.

Remember the pictures of our first kick at the CAT trophy in Germany using borrowed Leopard 1A1‘s, Belgique I believe, they had the original round frying pan turret. Our tankers won.

Tadda, if you examine the turrets of the up grade to the C2, it is a 1A1 turret with a complete add on of angular bins and armour add on‘s.

We may have made them look aesthetically pleasing and give our iron fist the impression of new kit, but in reality folks, we have stepped back two generations for a turret.

Next up, with our shrinking Bge capabilities and the advent of the LAV family, there was talk of Two light Bge (LAV) Gps, with one back Heavy (tracked).

I have my doubts. Especially with the rumours of a Bge being disbanded.
As I have stated in a previous post, I think it is time for Canada to get off the pot a make a decision to what our capabilities are to be and start moving in that direction.

I personally feel that we should more to an "all LAV" type concept. This will standardize the army from the hodgepodge we have now. It will force a re-thinking of our doctrine and a rewrite of our tactics. In other words a complete re-working of the army from doctrine, tactics and training. I think this would be a good thing by bringing debate to the army and in the end grow from that debate.

Going wheeled in the long run decreases maintaince costs, standardizes training ( and being easier to cross train Regs and reserves). and because we are basically buying from one family of vehs we will be able buy more. (increasing our sustainability something we don‘t have now with the Leopards)

There is nothing wrong with us doing the- "deploy overseas and be capable of defeating lightly armed enemy forces or to delay heavy enemy forces (a la Western Europe defense against the red hoards) until additional forces could be shipped by boat from the US". This could become our new role, one which could well suit us. As a secondary role, it would be no problem having LAV Bde or Bn in the peacekeeping/making role either.

I can agree that maintianing a MBT fleet is low on the priority list v.s making the bde‘s mobile, but i belive we should look to maintian some sembelance of heavy armour in the long-run. I like the sound of two medium, and one heavy bde, but I realise this approach would be impractical.

What do think should happen with the light battalions? Should they continue to pound the gravel while a third of thier numbers are air mobile, or should everyone be put in LAVs aswell except for airmobile companies?
I believe because of our size and financial constraints we should not dilute our effort and for better or worse stick with one path which I think should be all LAV ( or Wheeled). (I know it is putting all our eggs in one basket, but it is better to do one thing well than a lot half-assed.

Since the end of the Cold War, the concept we are now seeing is that most NATO countries are dropping the armour in favour of mobility and speed. Hence the current situation where the LAV seems to be overtaking the MBT as the armoured vehicle of choice.

-the patriot-
One of the few nations who went with a light mobile wheeled force was South Africa. Right down to wheeled 155‘s. The only country to even look at their tactics was Isreal, maybe we should have a look.

All other nations who have gone light and mobile and wound up in a shooting war did not do so well.

The Russians relied primarily on their BTR families in Afganistan, Chechnya, and several other regions. The numbers tell the truth, body bags do fit all sizes. The russians understand the need for a mix of track/wheeled, light/heavy.

We are getting into a doctrine that failed the US in Vietnam, light, fast, mobile.

It‘s nice to take a piece of ground, but you have to put something on that piece of terra firma to keep it. That is were the heavies pay off.

The LAV can do many rolls, which is great, but I question it‘s overhead protection and survivability on a sustained manouver warfare engagement. You can only shoot and skoot until the fat lady closes all the exits, then it turns in to a turkey shoot.

Read some of the other posts of late, get rid of the head sheds, rationalize our budget, get proper kit, get on with the job.

I‘m really impressed by some of the discussion on the adoption of the LAV III as our sole armd veh. While some of the comments have been the usual whining from the usual suspects for the most part there has been some good banter.

Choosing vehs and eqpt is a combination of many military factors (the threat and doctrine) vs society factors (culture, resources and politics). The Coyote (LAV II if you will) and LAV III are all a result of a combination of how the military and societal factor mix.

I‘m a firm believer that the purchase of the LAV III was the correct one for Canada and for the Army. It provides mix of protection, firepower and mobility at a fraction of the cost of a mechanized force. Considering the missions we‘ve been on in the last decade the LAV III will give us a capability that we‘ve never had before.

If the threat against Canada changes, our eqpt and doctrine can change as well.

Gunner sends....
I agree that purchasing the LAV III was the correct choice for our army, but should it be the only purchase? If we cannot afford a new MBT but can afford LAV 105mm and AT platforms, then we should go with all LAV III. If wec cannot afford either option then we are left with an army hampered down to the battle goupe level by its inhomogeneity. I think it is time that the boys in the palace have this discusion before there are any large purchases that go against the plan.
Does everyone here know the Eng M113 is to be replaced by the new generation M113? it has a longer hull, aditional road wheel, a grizzly turret, and it will not be able to keep up with an all LAV Btl Gp.
McG, The Army has had a plan in place for years to rationalize the current fleet of eqpt. The phasing out of the Lynx and introduction of the Coyote. The phasing out of the M113 and Grizzly and the phasing in of the LAV III. LAV III FOO and Pnr variants to replace their current vehs (Wow, a FOO vehicle that will bring us into the 21st century). On the armd side the Cougar is no longer used by the Regs and will be replaced in the interium with a Leopard C2/Coyote mix within the Regts. The long term vision (2010) is for everything to be replaced by the Armd Combat Vehicle (whatever it is). The bison (LAV II) will be used as ambs, mortars and CPs. I think the only M113 that will be kept are for TUA and Engrs?

Hence, the 113 fleet, Grizzlies and Cougars will for the most part be tossed. Some will be refurbished for MRTs, etc. Once completed we will actually have a fairly robust force that is all mounted in wheeled vehs with a fairly heavy firepower capability. Will we have a fairly modern and homogenous force to boot.

Just because you don‘t know what the Army intends to do doesn‘t mean there isn‘t a plan. If you are not able to access the info over the internet or in your unit. Spend a couple of bucks and do a access to information request and you will be amazed at how much info and plans are out there.

The army is finally able to move forward in terms of "good kit" and everyone is still complaining. If you wanted to complain about the state of eqpt within the Reserve Force and what direction they should take....that would be a good discussion. The Reserves...Mechanized or Light? Advantages/Disadvantages.
I am aware of the CF‘s vision for 2010, however in the area which we a discussing I would suggest it is too vague to be a plan. Let us look at what the plan says about the wheeled fleet, and the ACV.

Convert the land forces to a primarily
wheeled fleet of combat and support
vehicles. CLS is to develop a plan to
equip the land forces with wheeled vehicles
for most combat and support functions.
Specifically, CLS will seek PMB Preliminary
Project Approval by end April 2000 for an
ACV replacement for the Leopard and Cougar.

Now lets consider what it says.

1. The plan suggests moving to a MOSTLY wheeled fleet. This still leaves the handicap that wheeled vehicles will not be able to fully exploit their speed, and tracked vehicles will not be able to exploit their ability to travel where wheels cannot. To do either would result in the Bde‘s assets being spread out and unable to support each other. I hope we all realise at this point in time, that all combat arms are required to be successful in warfare. So my observations stands: the puzzle palace must decide to go all wheeled, or to establish different homogeneous Bde‘s based on light and wheeled or heavy and tracked.

2. It is not stated that the ACV will be wheeled or tracked; it could be either. IMHO, no one vehicle can replace both the cougar and the Leopard. The Leopard, as a MBT, can only be replaced by another MBT. As a fire support vehicle to the infantry the Cougar sufficiently matched mobility with its APC (Grizzly) counter part, however its 76 mm gun was inadequate, the Leopard in the same role has the desired fire power in its 105 mm but lacks the speed of the LAV III. To truly replace both vehicles in their roles would require a new MBT, and an infantry support gun.

And, as an aside, the plan also calls for the acquisition of NEW LAV ambulances (i.e. not the bison) and the TUA has already been placed an a LAV chassis (I saw one as early as last May). There was mention of acquiring a MLRS system, but mention of field artillery is limited. Should the guns become all SP, or towed. Should they be wheeled or remain tracked? Cougars are not being tossed; they are going to the reserves.

Now to get back to the point, Should Canada go all wheeled, or develop medium/light Bde’s and heavy Bde‘s? Should we maintain a MBT capability (replace the leopard, or not)? Do you agree with the "Plan?" It seems that the difference of opinion on this topic is actually split by those who feel Canada should prepare for low and some medium intensity conflict, and those who feel Canada should prepare for the entire spectrum of low to high intensity conflict.

[This message has been edited by McG (edited 29-01-2001).]
Well I am not in to doctrine or the yes/no question. If you have ever spent time on any ex, or op living in an engineer 113 it sucks. Living, working, and just keeping up is a true test. I personally liked the SEV. SEV what‘s that well let me tell ya it‘s an MLVW with a special cage and auger between the back cargo area and cab. With hydraulic tools built in to it. If you seen one their is no mistaken it for any thing else.

As for the SLAV III, I have not seen what their eng version is. The last word was that the Engineers would be converted to a total track unit with modified and newly painted 113 that come from the infantry once they are converted to the new SLAV family. But they way things are going, we are on wait out.

What ever they decide, do it quick. Then we can get on with the task of training, modifying out SOP‘s and learn how to work with every one else.
McG, don‘t look at CF vision for 2010 to provide exact details. It‘s simple a mid term vision statement. Look at the Army‘s Eqpt Rationalization Plan for more specifics. I think you‘ll find that alot of information is close hold until decisions can be made or it can be presented properly. I‘m getting a brief by the CLS later this week and I‘ll let the forum know the results.

I don‘t think we‘ll get to an all wheeled fleet simply due to financial constraints. The refurbishing of the Grizzly and M113 for special variants is a cost saving measure that provides an adequate vehicle...vice the best vehicle for the job. I‘ll have to check on LAVIII chassis being purchased for Ambs. That is new to me, I‘d always heard that the Bisons would.

The Leopard will be in service until at least 2010 and the ACV whatever it will be will come into service around that time. I think its a wheeled vehicle (LAV IV?) with a 105 mm mounted gun system. There are alot of advantages and disadvantages for a MBT or a wheeled veh. We can train for war with wheeled vehicles even if we probably will only be involved in Chapter 6 and 7 missions abroad.

Anyway, we are left with a mix of wheeled and tracked vehicles in the Bde Gp. Should we make our brigades (will there be any left) into heavy, medium or light? While it would look good on paper the separate training requirements and logistical support would overwhelm our system. Heck, we have enough trouble training ourselves with everyone going through the same training!

Canada does not have a military threat against it. Our main threat is in the form of the United States. How can we guard against a nation as big as they are?

Because we don‘t have a military threat we don‘t have a large military and it probably wouldn‘t be a wise use of taxpayers dollars to spend it on expensive hardware. Hence we strike a balance. A vehicle that is capable of training soldiers in war fighting skills, that could be used during a ground conflict in a variety of roles, and is very usefull for peacekeeping/peace enforcement operations. A medium weight capability seems to be the option that covers all avenues. Should it be wheeled? Sure, but is the money there to make it so?