Super Strykers to New Zealand

According to Strategy Page

The New Zealand army is buying 105 LAVs (Light Armored Vehicles) from General Dynamics Land Systems. This wheeled armored vehicle is based on the Piranha III LAV long used by the U.S. Marines, and later adopted by the US Army as the Stryker. This vehicle was designed Mowag of Switzerland, a company now owned by General Dynamics. In some ways the New Zealand LAV is an improvement on the Stryker LAV, with many small, but important, improvements. All 105 of the New Zealand vehicles will have a turret with a 25mm automatic cannon and have room in the back for ten troops. Seven LAVs will be equipped for engineer work and three used as recovery vehicles. The 14 ton, 8×8 vehicle has a maximum road speed of 100 kilometers an hour.

New Zealand placed the order in January of 2001 to replace aging M113s. Predictably, the move has its critics. This story says that LAV stands for Lacks Army Value. An earlier story from the same source calls for canning just about anyone connected with the decision. In a Q&A with NZ Defence Minister Mark Burton, there is this:

Q: Why did vehicle trials not take place?

A: Vehicle trials would have been conducted if, after the due diligence process, they were considered necessary.
This was not the case for an “off the shelf” vehicle in service with another army.
Trials cost significant sums of money and are not necessarily any more effective than using the results of testing overseas.

While that seems to make a cerain amount of sense, I’m a little troubled by the fact that in New Zealand, just like in the US, there was resistance to in-depth testing and side-by-side trials against other potential vehicles.

I like the idea of the 25mm chain gun turret. None of the US configurations uses this weapon, and, especially with the delays in the 105mm gun-equipped Styker variant, it would maybe be nice to have a Stryker with a little more ‘punch.’ The LAV I that the US Marines currently use mounts the 25mm gun.

Also, although the Stategy Page story says the NZ LAVs have room in the back for ten troops, everything I’ve read indicates that seven troops will be able to ride along with the vehicle’s three-man crew. And the Strategy Page story says that the NZ LAVs weigh 14 tons. The only New Zealand source I’ve found says 17.9 tons. The General Dynamics Land Systems page says 19 tons, the same as the US Stryker.

As a last note, I noticed that nearly all the New Zealand pages referred to the LAV III as a Canadian vehicle rather than a US vehicle. Although the plant that actually produces the LAV is in Canada, GDLS is headquartered in Michigan. Maybe it’s more palatable to New Zealanders to buy from the Canadians.

UPDATE 26 Nov 2005: I see that this post is getting a lot of attention due to the recent accident in Afghanistan. For much more MO coverage, see Canadian LAV-3 rolls in Afghanistan


  1. Just in from Nick Bryant. It is the lead in this week’s New Zealand Business Weekly

  2. I’ll provide a little info as a kiwi to clear some of your questions up. Provisional curb weight is 14.9 tonne (not ton). Combat weight with applique armour is 19 tonne. Has a three person crew with seating and space for 7 fully equipped soldiers. USMC use the LAV-25 which is a generation 2 LAV. The LAV III is referred to as a canadian vehicle because it is (essentially) the same vehicle as the one in use with the Canadian Army, developed in canada, and all the people the NZDF went through were canadian. While GDLS is head quartered in Michigan, the company we went through was GDLS-Canada. Mr Shoultz’s story is no doubt an interesting read for the public. However, several things to point out. Armoured vehicles stuck in the mud are nothing new. I have pictures of a NZLAV vehicle pulling a M113A1 out of a creek. But that wouldn’t make as controversial a story. The M113s were retired for good reason. They are at the end of their operational life, designed for a cold war environment. LAV’s getting hit by RPGs and being destroyed? You tell me about an armoured vehicle that CAN take a a hit from an RPG and survive. 67 ton Main Battle Tanks in Iraq have been destroyed by those same RPGs. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. If you want your armour light enough to be C-130 portable, you have to live with less armour. Thats why they’re called LIGHT armoured vehicles. It’s a fact of life that vehicles are going to be hit in combat. The LAV isn’t designed to be completely invulnerable to mines, its designed to survive, and protect the crew. There are numerous stories from both iraq and afghanistan about LAVs (US and Canadian) surviving mine strikes with no fatalities among the crew and passengers. The bottom line is, the vehicle is designed to have certain capabilities. They don’t include standing up to every antitank weapon on the planet. Nor are they designed to be impervious to getting stuck in the mud. These things happen. Ask the troops if they like their new LAVs, and most of them will respond enthusiastically. If only for the reason that tires ride a whole lot more comfortable than tracks!

  3. I’ll provide a little info as a kiwi also. We stuffed up. As usual the people with the money know nothing about what they’re buying. Our Rifle’s are another example of us buying dodgy gear. I believe the LAVIII’s we have are too heavy for our Hercs to fly out of the country. Why we didn’t go for MTVLs (successor to the M113A3) along with some EIFV’s (Bradly turreted MTVLs) for in Anti-Armour units I don’t know.. actually I do know, our decision makers are morons, but the brass have to nod and smile while making excuses and defending a bad decision… again…

  4. I’m an ex soldier and I have always been intrigued by the NZ governments decision to by the LAVs. I remember a report a few years ago about the Russian govt offering us a couple of hundred BRDMs to clear some of their existing debt to this country. The BRDM is fully amphibious, could be fitted out with a 25mm gun, is air transportable,has a door on each side ( so the grunts can get out on either side) and is combat proven in Afghanistan-Soviet war, Gulf war of 1991 and other conflicts. Would it have cost us $700 million?? I seriously doubt it. Are the BRDMs the greatest ever APC ever built? No but they are still a reasonably solid piece of kit. Something to think about

  5. forgive me… not the BRDM but various other soviet vehicles were offered- BMPs and the like. So sowwy master….prease forgive me ;-)

  6. Hi there. Been trying to get a price comparison: Btr90 versus lav xx. Any clues? yes I am a KIWI trying to work out how much of my tax money has been wasted on buying american crap. I’m soooo glad I don’t work for the NZarmy…

  7. Hi there. Been trying to get a price comparison: Btr90 versus lav xx. Any clues? yes I am a KIWI trying to work out how much of my tax money has been wasted on buying american crap. I’m soooo glad I don’t work in the NZarmy… Cheers

  8. There’s a lot of myths about the LAVIII. There are important things to note: 1) The ‘afflictions’ being suffered by LAVs around the world are typical of what happens to light armoured vehicles in combat. Vehicles get blown up. Vehicles roll down ravines. Vehicles catch fire. That’s part of warfare. A tracked vehicle can be completely disabled by breaking a single link in a single track. 2) The results from Canadian battlefield trials, and more importantly from combat experience in places like Mosul, indicates the LAVIII is an excellent fighting vehicle. Soldiers in Mosul are unanimous in their praise for the LAVIII. While one can easily bring up single examples of LAVs being knocked out by RPGs, it is equally easy to provide instances of LAVs taking multiple RPG hits and continuing with the mission (a LAV with the 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team in Mosul sustained 7 direct RPG hits in one incident and continued with its mission). 3) The limited range of the C-130H while carrying a LAVIII is more a problem because of our misuse of the C-130H. The Hercules is designed as a Tactical Air Transport. It is designed to transport hardware and personnel ‘in theatre’. New Zealand relies on its tiny fleet of C-130Hs as both Tactical Air Transports AND as Strategic Air Transports. If we want Strategic AirLift capabilities we should be operating Globemaster IIIs, Starlifters, or Galaxies.

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