The ASLAV (Australian Light Armored Vehicle) is similar in most respects to the American LAV-25 and Canadian Coyote series of eight-wheeled reconnaissance vehicles. All are based on the Swiss MOWAG Piranha with production mainly held out of the General Dynamics Land Systems Canada though ASLAVs have emerged through the General Dynamics Land Systems Australia brand label. Production spanned from 1995 to 2007 to which some 257 vehicles have been delivered in several variants. These vehicles have seen combat service in the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, the 2003 invasion of Iraq and in the unrest of East Timor as part of a United Nations initiative.
Joining other modern world powers, the Australian Army settled on an armored wheeled offering over the more expensive and complex tracked vehicles available. Work on acquiring a new light armored vehicle for Australian ground forces began in 1990 when over a dozen United States Marine Corps LAV-25 systems were battle-tested by Australian units for durability, reliability, adaptability and mobility across local terrain. With some modifications in place to suit Australian Army requirements, the ASLAV was born in 1992. Design work continued into 1994 and serial production commenced the following year. Full-strength was then reached in 1997 with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment through 113 being procured by this time. A second batch then followed that was 144-strong bringing the total number of ASLAVs in circulation to the aforementioned 257 value.
Modularity is the key to the ASLAV and available "kits" allow the base hull to undertake several major battlefield roles. Additionally, Australian LAVs are outfitted with air conditioning units for crew comfort. Life extension programs have introduced modernized thermal imaging systems and an improved 8x8 suspension system. Tires (independently sprung) feature a run-flat capability and power can be driven to all four or just two axles as needed.
Many other facets of the ASLAV remain faithful to the original Canadian Coyote and American LAV-25. The vehicle carries an operating crew of three with seating for six combat-ready infantry. Length measures 6.5 meters with a width of 2.6 meters and height to turret roof of 2.7 meters. Main armament is the 25mm M242 "Bushmaster" series chain gun in the powered turret which also features a 7.62mm machine gun (FN MAG 58) in a coaxial arrangement. An optional 7.62mm machine gun can be fitted to the turret roof as an anti-aircraft measure. Eight smoke grenade dischargers allow the vehicle to produce its own defensive- or offensive-minded smoke screen as needed. Power is through a Detroit Diesel 6V-53T diesel-fueled engine of 275 horsepower offering a maximum road speed of 75 miles per hour and operational range of 410 miles. The vehicle is fully-amphibious and able to traverse water sources as required.
The turret is seated over the middle-rear portion of the hull roof. The passenger cabin is to the rear while the driver is front-left with the powerpack to his right (pushing the turret slightly offset to the left). Passenger entry/exit is through a pair of outward-swinging, hinged, rectangular doors found at the rear hull face. The vehicle is fully suspended across its eight-wheels (four wheels to a hull side) with a spare attached to the rear hull wall.
There remains three major variant designations of the ASLAV as the Type I, Type II and Type III with subvariants in-between. The base model is the ASLAV-25 (Type I) used in the armored/armed reconnaissance role. Type II versions include the ASLAV-PC which serves as an Armored Personnel Carrier, features an operating crew of two and carries seven infantry. The ASLAV-C is a Type II command vehicle. The ASLAV-S is a surveillance-minded vehicle while the ASLAV-A is a Type II model battlefield ambulance. Type III models include the ASLAV-F maintenance support vehicle with powered crane and the ASLAV-R Armored Recovery Vehicle (ARV) with powered winch.