New Armored Vehicle Begins Army Transformation
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 22, 2001 "It drives like a Caddy," was Pfc. Shaun Ratcliff's assessment of the new Army Light Armored Vehicle III displayed at the Pentagon May 17.
Ratcliff, an infantryman with the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry at Fort Lewis, Wash., said the eight-wheeled armored vehicle handles well and would be perfect for combat in the cities.
The new Army Light Armored Vehicle III variant equipped with a 105mm gun on display at the Pentagon May 17, 2001. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
If all goes well with the system, the Army hopes to buy 2,131 of the vehicles to outfit six brigades. Officials said the first brigade could be operational by spring 2003 with initial operating capability by November 2003.
The 37,000-pound vehicle has a 350-horsepower diesel engine and will go 60 miles per hour with a full combat load. It's small and light enough to fit into a C-130 transport. As an infantry carrier, it has room for a nine-man squad and a crew of two. Its 14.5mm of armor can stop small-arms fire. Additional ceramic armor will stop rocket-propelled grenades.
The vehicle will serve as the basis for other specialized carriers. The basic version has a mount for a 40 mm grenade launcher, a .50-caliber machine gun or an M-240 7.62mm machine gun. The Army intends to mount an auto-loading 105 mm gun on one version. Other versions will be tailored to operate as engineer vehicles, mortar vehicles, medical evacuation vehicles, chemical warfare detection vehicles and anti-tank vehicles.
The Army has borrowed similar vehicles from the Canadian armed forces. Two battalions at Fort Lewis, the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry, and the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry, are working on doctrine and techniques. Army officials said that this head start on training and doctrine will save time in the long run by allowing battalions and brigades to form that much faster.
The Army will announce the name of the new class of vehicles in October.