A light-armored reconnaissance vehicle patrols through a small Norwegian village during Cold Response 14. The Corps is planning upgrades to keep the service's 925 LAVs viable through 2035. (Sgt. Tatum Vayavananda/Marine Corps)
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The Marine Corps has awarded General Dynamics a $52 million contract to upgrade the suspension, driveline, steering system and electrical components of the service’s light armored vehicles.
The contract, announced May 19, is the latest in a string of upgrades to keep the Corps’ 925 LAVs, which first rolled out in 1983, viable through at least 2035.
Over the years, the service has adapted the versatile armored vehicle for security, command and control, reconnaissance and assault purposes, said officials with Marine Corps Systems Command. It can operate on land or water, carry communications equipment and serve as a weapons platform.
“The LAV isn’t just part of a combined arms force — it is one,” LAV program manager Col. Mark Brinkman said.
When the use of IEDs and explosively formed penetrators soared in Iraq and Afghanistan, the vehicles were up-armored.
“This increased weight has a negative impact on reliability and off-road performance of the platform,” said Capt. Nicole P. Fiedler, a MARCORSYSCOM spokeswoman at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. The upgraded driveline, steering and suspension component will restore the reliability and mobility characteristics that have degraded over the years.”
To do that cost effectively, the service will repurpose parts previously used in the Army’s Stryker platform, Fielder said.
Other LAV improvements include: modifications to safety, support equipment and tools; the integration of better sensors, including the Improved Thermal Sighting System; better armor through the Ballistic Protection Upgrade Program; an improved communications suite for the command and control LAV variant; and, most recently, a better weapons platform for the anti-tank variant.
In April, the Corps awarded a contract to Raytheon to produce four LAV-ATs with M41 Saber Improved Target Acquisition Systems, replacing the decades-old M220 TOW weapon system, according to Barb Hamby, a MARCORSYSCOM spokeswoman.
It will give the LAV-AT a stabilized turret that allows Marines to acquire targets while the vehicle is moving. Both the improved LAV-ATs and LAVs with improved mobility are expected to hit the fleet in 2019.