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Engine: 275 hp Detroit Diesel 6V53T
Length: 21 feet
Width: 8 feet 2 inches
Height: 8 feet 10 inches
Combat weight: 28,100 pounds
Armament: M242 25 mm Bushmaster chain gun with 210 rounds of ammunition and two M240E1 7.62 mm machine guns (one coaxially mounted in turret, one pintle-mounted on roof), each with 660 rounds
   Land: 62 mph
   Water: 6.5 mph
Range: 410 miles
Crew: Three (commander, gunner, driver)

In response to growing tensions in the Middle East, U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s administration called for a Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force, which in 1980 prompted the Army and Marine Corps to acquire an off-the-shelf light armored vehicle, or LAV. Two years later, after testing designs from three motor companies (one American, one Canadian and one British) at Twentynine Palms, Calif., and Yuma, Ariz., the respective branches accepted a vehicle proposed by the defense division of General Motors of Canada (later acquired by General Dynamics). GM’s prototype was a license-built 8×8 amphibious takeoff on the Piranha family of armored fighting vehicles designed by the Swiss firm MOWAG.

Funding shortfalls forced the Army to abandon its program, but the Marines ultimately purchased 758 LAVs. The LAV-25 reconnaissance variant (with a three-man crew and room for four passengers in combat gear) first saw use during the 1989–90 invasion of Panama and has since served in the Balkans, Haiti, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Other variants include the LAV-L logistics vehicle (for cargo/transport), the LAV-R recovery vehicle (fitted with a roof-mounted crane), the LAV-C2 command and control vehicle, the LAV-AT antitank vehicle (armed with an Emerson 901A1 tube-launched, optically tracked wire-guided missile), the LAV-M mortar carrier (armed with an 81 mm M252) and the LAV-MEWSS mobile electronic warfare support system vehicle. Other nations using LAV variants have included Australia (whose ASLAV-25 is fitted with a chain gun and two machine guns), Saudi Arabia (whose LAVAG mounts a 90 mm Cockerill Mk.8 gun system) and Canada (whose LAV-25 Coyote recon vehicle dispenses with all amphibious equipment). Upgrades in armor and survivability—for example, in the U.S. Marine LAV-25A2 shown here—will provide the Marines with an effective vehicle through its 2035 expected service life. MH