The Australian Light Armoured Vehicle (ASLAV) is an Australian light armoured vehicle designed and manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems Canada. The vehicle is based on the MOWAG Piranha 8x8design. It is a highly mobile, eight wheeled amphibious armoured vehicle used for reconnaissance and surveillance operations.
In 1990, a year-long evaluation was conducted by A Squadron 2nd Cavalry Regt on 15 light armoured vehicles leased from the United States Marine Corps. This was to see how wheeled vehicles would handle Australian conditions and what modifications would need to be made.
In 1992, under Phase 2 of the ASLAV Program, the Australian Defence Materiel Organisation acquired 113 of the Australian version of the Canadian manufactured LAV for the Australian Army. By 1997, the 2nd Cavalry Regiment was fully equipped with the ASLAV.
Phase 3 of the ASLAV acquisition was approved with the follow-on purchase of 144 vehicles with increased levels of local content, including the fabrication and assembly of turrets by General Dynamics Land Systems - Australia. The Wheeled Manoeuvre Systems Program Office of the Defence Materiel Organisation manages the ASLAV Phase 3 project, as well as the through-life support of in-service ASLAV assets.
These vehicles have been issued to training units, and the 2nd Cavalry Regiment. The Phase 2 vehicles have been upgraded and the bulk issued to the 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment (Queensland Mounted Infantry) in Brisbane. This equips the Army's two armoured reconnaissance units with ASLAVs.
As of February 2015, Australia has 253 ASLAVs in service. The Department of Defence officially opened a tender for replacement of the ASLAV that same month. The tender is valued at US$8 billion and calls for applicants to produce 225 armoured vehicles, capable of carrying up to 35 tonnes and with better blast protection by the time that the ASLAVs reach the end of their service lives in 2021. The replacement will occur under project LAND 400.
The ASLAV has an eight-wheeled configuration (capable of either four or eight wheel drive), is amphibious and has a range of 600 km with a top road speed of 120 km/h. The vehicle has excellent battlefield mobility, as all wheels are equipped with a solid-core secondary run-flat tyre next to the hub, allowing the vehicle to function even with eight flat tyres.
Phase 3 improvements include a laser range finder, the latest generation thermal imager, 24 V DC electric drive for the turret and improved suspension for the hull.
The heat of northern Australia poses special problems for armoured vehicle crews with interior temperatures reaching 55 °C (131 °F). The ASLAV Type II is fitted with air-conditioning that reduces temperatures to outside levels. Increasing the versatility of the ASLAV even more is the use of non-permanent Mission Role Installation Kits (MRIKs) to generate several variants from a single hull design. This is a unique Australian modification and much of the design and development work was done in Australia.
ASLAVs have seen operational service with the Australian Army in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan.
By using the above mentioned MRIKs and the three different hull types of the ASLAV, the Australian Army has at its disposal the following variants:
ASLAV Type I
- ASLAV-25 (Reconnaissance) - A three-man reconnaissance vehicle armed with an M242 dual-feed 25 mm Bushmaster cannon and two 7.62 mm FN MAG 58 machine guns. Similar to the LAV-25.
ASLAV Type II
- ASLAV-PC (Personnel Carrier) - A two-man vehicle armed with a .50 BMG M2 machine gun and capable of carrying 7 scout troops. The standard machine gun pintle mount is replaced by a Kongsberg Protector remote weapon station (RWS) which can accommodate either a 12.7 mm machine gun or a Mk 19 40mm automatic grenade launcher. Based on the Canadian Bison.
- ASLAV-C (Command) - A vehicle equipped with enhanced radio installation and radio masts, mapboard, stowage compartments, appropriate seating and annex. Armed with a single .50 calibre BMG M2 machine gun, although vehicles on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have been fitted with the Kongsberg Protector RWS.
- ASLAV-S (Surveillance) - A specialised surveillance vehicle equipped with thermal imager, laser range finder, day television camera and battlefield surveillance radar RASIT or AMSTAR on a hydraulic mast. Armed with a single .50 BMG M2 machine gun.
- ASLAV-A (Ambulance) - Equipped with medical equipment and litter stations this ASLAV can carry three lying patients or six sitting patients. Armed with a single .50 BMG M2 machine gun.
ASLAV Type III
- ASLAV-F (Fitter) - Maintenance support vehicle with HIAB 650 crane, crewed by soldiers of the Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RAEME) for the repair and maintenance of ASLAV vehicles. Armed with a single 7.62 FN MAG 58 machine gun. ASLAV-F vehicles are fitted with the Kongsberg Protector RWS in Afghanistan.
- ASLAV-R (Recovery) - Maintenance support vehicle with recovery winch, also crewed by RAEME soldiers for recovering damaged or bogged vehicles. Armed with a single 7.62 FN MAG 58 machine gun. ASLAV-R vehicles are fitted with the Kongsberg Protector RWS in Afghanistan.