Marine LAV in Iraq

Came across this pic in yesterday’s Frontline Photos:

First of all, it’s a cool picture.

Second of all, it’s a model with a 25mmm chain gun turret. Gotta love that. And I still think that Strykers would benefit from a similar turret. At least some variants. Don’t tell me that weight (or size) is keeping it off due to air transport restrictions. The Stryker is way over requirements anyway. If Strykers really, truly would need to be deployed via C-130, leave the 25mm variants behind. In all other cases (probably 95% or more of the Strykers actual use) it would be a welcome addition to the brigades.

And finally, the Marine LAVs don’t utilize the slat armor that Strykers do. I imagine that it could be bolted on somehow if they really wanted/needed it, so my question is this: Have the Marines not had trouble with RPGs? I know that there are a lot more Strykers than there are Marine LAVs in Iraq, but the Marines have been in some pretty hairy places all along. I’ve not heard of any LAVs being taken out by RPGs.


  1. I believe a number of LAVs have been hit by RPGs, but I am not sure of numbers or their effect. The highly sloped sides have helped in a couple of instances. I do know of one that was hit by an anti-personnel variant warhead. Very minimal damage to the vehicle, the Marines were lucky. Marine LAVs do not have any provisions for add-on armor. Over the years, the weight of the vehicle has grown and I do not believe that much more weight could be added.

  2. The Stryker APC (without turret) is designed to carry a full squad (9-10 troops), whereas the Marine (and Saudi) LAV-25 carries only 6 dismounts. The turret basket takes up a lot of room in the LAV I/II types of vehicles. I am not sure how many troops the Canadians and New Zealanders are carrying in their LAV IIIs.

  3. Its not all beer and skittles in the LAV land. A mortar vehicle upgrade program would become part of the Expeditionary Fire Support System, a deployable platform the Marines are seeking to develop. ‘It’s kind of a dual-track program. I am not sure what will come out,’ Manza said. The LAV also falls short on firepower, he said. The current 25 mm gun does not have satisfactory penetration and range against armored reconnaissance platforms. To improve the lethality, the goal is to increase the range and stabilize the main gun. The vehicle should be capable of mounting medium and heavy machine guns. The program office is looking at replacing the main gun, he said. At the high end, the answer would be ‘to take the turret from the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle and stick it on our LAV. That would give us the 30mm gun, the fire support system. It is very much doable from an engineering standpoint, but it is very expensive.’ Another option would be to improve the stabilization of the 25 mm gun on the current turret, as well as the turret traverse, and adapt it to be able to shoot depleted uranium rounds.

  4. I’m not sure what you’re talking about with penetration problems on the 25mm. The LAV-25 uses the same 25mm-the M242 Bushmaster-used on the Army’s M2/3 Bradley, and to the best of my knowledge, the Army hasn’t had any complaints. To the contrary, several of the sergeants I served with in Germany, vets of GW1, said that the sabot round for the 25mm worked to well against BMP-class vehicles, simply going right through and only making small holes, not unlike the 5.56mm does to people in many cases. They switched to using HE rounds on APCs. I’ve also heard tell of 25mm sabot being able to penetrate the side hull armor of T-55s.

  5. Heartless Libertarian Yes, the LAV and Bradley use the same gun. IMO the issue is less the gun then it is with tactics and vehicle that uses the weapon. The Bradley can get away with using the 25mm because the Army armed & armored the vehicle to the teeth. So that anything less then a MBT, is going to have to think twice about taking it on. M2/M3 is basically a medium tank that can carry dismounts. As such, the Army has been upgrading the armor on M2/M# significantly. The M2A3 armor is rated as proof vs 30mm rounds. The M2/M3 carry about 3-4 times the ammo load of LAV 25, plus Tow missiles. The addition of improved independent sesnors / hand off targeting ability & digital communications makes the M2/M3 a tough cookie. The LAV on the other hand is forced by Marine doctrine & needs to keep its weight low. As such, it relies on speed, distance, and its dismounts to keep it safe. However, the LAV does not have the Bradley armor,ammo capasity, communications, sensors, or advanced gun stabilization. As a result, in applicable the LAV’s 25mm is not as effective. It does not have the range, accuracy, or ammo load to keep it in battle. So an upgrade to a more effective (round for round) weapon is needed. Furthermore, since the marines have been putting all their eggs in the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, upgrades to the LAV has been slow. The general issue with the 25mm, stems from the latest push to make light vehicles fight above their weight class. The DARPA 5/50 program, and various upgrade proposals to upgrade the Bushmaster to a 30 or 40 mm class are examples. Yes, the 25mm gun with the M919 Armor-Piercing round can defeat all but a few light/medium armored vehicles and in some cases MBT’s. However, the M919 round is most likely the best that the 25mm can get without some sort of major advance in the weapon. The issue is range, and combat applications. The 25mm is a good round, but has issues in supporting infantry urban combat needs. The Bradly can get around these issues due to its higher ammo loads but the LAV has issues. That said, basic physics points out that a 40mm hypervelocity metastable HE round is going to be replacing the Bushmaster.

  6. I was at the Battle of Umm Hujul in 1991 where the 1st Light Armored Infantry battalion and their LAV’s were thrown into a battle against an Iraqi heavy mech brigade. We (1st Battalion, 25th Marines) were a about half an Infantry battalion sent to the border prior to the start of the ground war to collect prisoners. The heavy Army and Marine formations were far behind us maneuvering into position for the ground assault. 1ST LAI was the only unit that could get there fast enough to prevent us from being turned into a speed bump. They saved our asses in a huge way. My Air Officer went in with the LAV’s get them air support. He said the 25mm cannons worked pretty well against APC’s and BMP’s. While they did not penetrate the T-55’s armor at long range, many Iraqi tanks had barrels of fuel strapped on top. The LAV gunners would target these barrels until a tracer round started a fire. Several burning tanks had to be abandoned by the Iraqis due to this tactic. I’m not sure how many LAV’s were damaged or destroyed in the battle – several were hit by our own Air Farce before Major Wooley got there to take over air support. Four Marines were also reported killed by Iraqi artillery. I heard that the LAV’s were not hit by the slow flying Sager missiles. When they saw them coming, they would put suppressive fire on the source and just move out of the way. Meanwhile, air strikes, TOW’s from the AT variant, and infantry Dragons really tore up the Iraqi armor. Eventually the Iraqi’s turned back. I know a LAV is not that heavily armored and would be easy meat against a modern battle tank, but they just impressed the hell out of us. The combination of speed, firepower, some armor protection, and the added punch of their dismounts is terrific. The LAV is just a great piece of equipment – and the Marines who use them are among the best I’ve seen. Thanks guys! Somalia would have turned out much differently for the Rangers if all the LAV’s had not been pulled out with the Marines.

  7. Sometimes, lost in the stats and figures, is the human element. Any weapon, is only as good as the soldier who is using it. Since I have been raised in a Air Force environment, the general view that ground pounders make great targets sometimes colors my views. That said, one of the big marks against any comparison of weapons is that our opponents, Iraq, Serbia, et al. Basically suck. So the 64k question is, does a weapon system that seems so good today, is it actually good or does it only appear to be good because the bad guys are incompentent?

  8. Good question. One the way home from Desert Storm, my buddies and I debated whether or not we could have beat the Iraqis if we had traded equipment. While processing thousands of Iraqi prisoners, we got a decent picture of their quality as soldiers. It was our opinion that we could have won with their equipment. Our better training and vastly superior leadership would have still carried the day. On the other hand, we also agreed that using their equipment against ours, the casualties on both sides would have been horrendous. While we would have won, a lot (tens of thousands instead of a hundred or so) of us would not have been going home.