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ASLAV - The Australian 
Light Armoured Vehicle Programme  

Part 1: ASLAV-25 Reconnaissance Version

by Paul D. Handel


An ASLAV-25 just after delivery, with the green delivery tag still in place on the front right side.  This view shows the Bison- style muffler, and the position of the ARN and bridge classification signs.



In the Defence White Paper of March 1987, the Government stated that Australia’s northern defences would be strengthened.  For the Australian Army, this would be first achieved by basing a cavalry (reconnaissance) regiment in the Darwin area, beginning in 1992.  The regiment would be tasked with mobile reconnaissance and surveillance over a wide area, and would have its capability expanded with the acquisition of new equipment. In particular, a new wheeled armoured vehicle was to be given consideration, based upon the large distances which had to be covered during any type of ground reconnaissance or surveillance mission in Northern Australia. 

By late 1988, the Wheeled Armoured Fighting Vehicle project (WAFV) was underway, with the main contenders under consideration being the GM Canada LAV25, the Steyr Pandur and the Saviem VAB.  However, in an unprecedented move in 1989, the Australian Government approached the US Government about a direct purchase of vehicles from United Sates Marine Corps Stocks.  In 1989 the purchase was approved, and the Australian Army ordered 14 LAV-25’s and one LAV Recovery from USMC Stocks.  These vehicles were to be used for evaluation over a two year period, and were used for organisation trials, validation of employment in Northern Australia and a comparison of performance with existing tracked light armoured vehicles (the M113A1 family).  


The LAV 25 Trials 

The USMC vehicles arrived by ship in Newcastle in April 1990, and were transferred to the 21 Supply Battalion depot at Moorebank, south west of Sydney.  An inspection revealed that a number of the vehicles were suffering from severe water damage, probably having been transported as deck cargo.  The vehicles were dried out and repaired, and issued to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, Royal Australian Armoured Corps, then based at Holsworthy. After familiarisation training had bee conducted withing the Regiment, the vehicles were first deployed to Northern Australia in October, 1990, and operated during the hot-dry season where temperature inside the vehicles reached around 55°C.  This first exercise saw vehicles covering some 6500km, with one troop returning from Tindal to Sydney, some 4000km, on their own wheels.  During the evaluation period, several deficiencies were found in the vehicles for use under Australian conditions - the tyres were easily staked by the bush in the north of Australia; the vehicles were exceptionally hot inside during daytime operations (true of any AFV in that climate) and some of the hull fittings were easily damaged.  The tyre problem was a constant one, and was solved by the carriage of one or two spare wheels complete, mounted on a hinged carrier frame on the rear of the hull.  Although they blocked the rear doors from use, the LAV25 was never considered in Australian service to be anything other than a reconnaissance vehicle.


  An LAV-25 moving at speed on Puckapunyal range.  The prominent wire cutter on the turret roof is a feature retained in the ASLAV variants.


Four Canadian Bison Armoured Personnel Carriers were evaluated in 1992 as part of the ABCA (America, Britain, Canada and Australia ) loan agreement, and with their larger hull giving a roomier interior, were found to be more ideal for the carriage of Assault Troopers than the LAV.  (These vehicles were returned to Canada at the end of the evaluation period.) 

After almost two years of trialing, it was announced in December 1992 that Australia would purchase 97 LAV’s from Canada, to supplement the 15 vehicles already held.  The vehicle family was designated ASLAV – Australian Light Armoured Vehicle - (AS is the NATO abbreviation for Australia), and the purchase of 97 vehicles was to be made up of:


33 ASLAV - 25


the basic reconnaissance version with 25mm Bushmaster Chain gun in a Delco turret






the personnel carrier based on the BISON.  This mounts a .50 inch machine gun on a pintle mount




10 ASLAV - S


Surveillance version




  9 ASLAV - C


Command version with additional radios, map boards etc.




  2 ASLAV - A


An ambulance version with capacity for 3 stretchers




10 ASLAV - F


A Fitters vehicle/Recovery vehicle with winching and lifting capacity



Description of the ASLAV- 25 

The ASLAV hulls with automotive components and fitted with the turret for the gun versions were built in Canada, and then sent to Adelaide, South Australia for fitting out by British Aerospace Australia, the local sub-contractor of Diesel Division General Motors of Canada. The ASLAV is an eight wheeled vehicle, with the front two axles steering, and having the ability to operate in either four or eight wheel drive.  Rear mounted propellors give the vehicle a speed of 10 km/hr in water.  The turbocharged GM 6V53T diesel engine gives a top road speed in excess of 100 km/hr.  A range of 600 kilometres is possible.  A front mounted self-recovery winch is fitted.

The standard vehicle of the family is the ASLAV-25, the reconnaissance variant. Its Delco designed turret mounts the M242 25mm  Cannon, which has a selectable rate of fire varying from single shot to 100 and 200 rounds per minute.  Two MAG 58 7.62mm Machine Guns are fitted, one co-axially with the M242 and the second on the turret for use by the commander.  A thermal imaging day/night sight is fitted. The turret rotates 360º and is fully stabilised.  


  A left side view of a new ASLAV –25. Tool stowage is not yet fitted.  


Although the vehicles use the LAV basic hull, the protection level can be increased by the addition of ceramic armour tiles.  The purchase of this additional armour is currently deferred.  Crew protection is increased by the fitting of a automatic fire suppression system. 

The ASLAV specification included a climate control system for the crew compartment and the fitting of Australian made Raven radio equipment. Michelin XML tyres are fitted, larger in diameter  and cross – section than the original tyres, and with a more aggressive tread pattern. Vehicles carry a puncture repair kit to allow speedy tyre repair. Different exhaust system, guards for the propellers, different external stowage, different turret stowage, improved barrel for 25mm gun, infantry/tank telephone and differing aerial mounts are some of the many other detail differences which exist between the original LAV and the new ASLAV vehicles. 

The variants of the ASLAV Family are based on three distinct hull types.  The Type 1 hull is the standard vehicle with turret.  The Type 2 hull has no turret but a higher rear superstructure, and is the basis for the Personnel Carrier, Command, Surveillance, Ambulance and Logistic variants.  The Type 3 hull is similar to the Type 2 but is strengthened to allow the mounting of the Fitters and Recovery configurations.  The Type 2 and Type 3 hulls are fitted with Mission Role Installation Kits (MRIK) which are non-permanent, so that several variants can be configured from the same hull type.  These Australian developed kits can be installed and changed at the unit level.  The variants will be described in the next article. 

The first vehicles arrived in Adelaide in February 1995, with instructor and crew training taking place at the School of Armour, Puckapunyal, from October 1995 until the end of 1996. The 2nd Cavalry Regiment became fully operational by 1997 with some 86 ASLAV variants equipping the unit.  The remaining vehicles of the 97 total equip the Mounted Combat Division (MCD) of the Army Combined Arms Training Centre (ACATC), formerly the School of Armour, at Puckapunyal and the Army Logistic Training Centre in Bandiana.



Operational Deployment 

The first big test of the ASLAV Family came during Exercise Phoenix, which was the culminating  event in the Restructuring of the Army Task Force.  The exercise was held in the Northern territory, in an area of some 200,000 square kilometres.  Emphasis was placed upon the aquisition of intelligence, the main gatherer of which was the 2nd Cavalry Regiment and their ASLAVs.  In this role they were highly successful.  The vehicles’ ability to deploy quickly over very long distances, and their day/night operating capability, proved their worth. 

The exercise also trialed a number of vehicles, including the DDGM 120mm Armoured Mortar System and a TOW anti-armour missile turret mounted on an ASLAV hull.  Along with a Paladin 155mm Self Propelled Gun and a Palletised Load System (PLS) resupply vehicle, they gave the Australian Army a close look at these modern battlefield systems in an operational environment.   


Firing the main armament on an ASLAV-25. The spent link for the 25mm rounds is being ejected through the port on the right front of the turret behind the smoke grenade dischargers.  A plastic 20 litre water can is stowed in the rack on the hull.  


September 1999 saw the Australian Army involved in its biggest operational deployment since the war in South Vietnam, when it responded to the United Nations request for a peacekeeping force to be involved in the independence of East Timor from Indonesia.  Some 5000 Australian troops were deployed, including a composite squadron from 2nd Cavalry Regiment.  Although trained as a reconnaissance organisation, the squadron was deployed as an APC unit, having only four ASLAV 25 vehicles, the remainder being mainly the APC variant.


Follow-on Purchases 

Phase 3 of the ASLAV project will be the purchase of a further 150 vehicles, sufficient to equip another two regiments.  At present the planning is for an in-service date of 2004.



Variants of the ASLAV-25 

The ASLAV-25 is the base vehicle of the family. As noted previously, all variants currently in service are based upon the Type 2 and Type 3 hulls.  However, the MCD has one variant of the ASLAV-25, this being the Driver Training vehicle.  


The Driver Training vehicle from the side-rear.  The Driver Training Turret retains its Canadian Army green camouflage paint.  


It is a standard ASLAV-25, with the Delco turret removed and a cabin fitted in its place.  The cabin seats two personnel in comfortable “armchairs”, and has two roof hatches,radio aerial mounts and windscreen wipers.  The cabin fits directly on the turret ring of the ASLAV-25, but does not rotate.  The Delco turrets when removed are placed on stands and used for the training of crew commanders and gunners, so that one vehicle can provide training for three AFV trades.   



The ASLAV family usually carry some generic markings, such as the ARN, bridge classification and “Caution Left Hand Drive” warnings, as well as special to unit markings.  The ASLAV-25 (Type 1 hull) carries ARNs in the range 16001 to 16100 in black on the right front angled upper nose plate and on the left rear door. The Bridge Classification sign, 15 in black inside a broken circle is below the front ARN. Vehicles of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment normally have an inverted black triangle on the rear door and the turret sides, together with the radio callsign (C/S), for example 12B, with the numerals and letters on different sides of the triangle.  (The inverted triangle used by 2nd Cavalry Regiment dates back to the Second World War, when Armoured Brigade Reconnaissance Squadrons carried an inverted triangle marking, denoting their independent nature and their recon role. 

All ASLAVs are finished in the standard Australian Army three colour camouflage scheme.  





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An overhead view of the LAV-25.  The USMC camouflage scheme was retained in Australian use, with the squadron markings in sand colour and the ARN (Army Registration Number) in black.  

  The rear of an LAV-25 with Australian designed and fitted spare tyre rack.  This design, by the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, allowed one of the rear hull doors to still be used.  

The LAV-Recovery variant fully stowed during its trials with 2nd Cavalry Regiment.  The weight of the winch in the rear compartment and the crane on the roof gives the vehicle a nose-up attitude.  

One of the Canadian Bison vehicles with all its hatches open.  The configuration of this vehicle is more akin to the ASLAV family than the USMC LAV variants.  

 Rear view of a 2nd Cavalry Regiment ASLAV-25, with spare tyre rack fitted. The rack swings out of the way of the doors, and brings the spare wheel lower to the ground.  The top anchor frame can be seen painted black above the doors.  

Close up of the left rear hull side, showing vision blocks, tool stowage positions and rear hull roof hatches,  

The ASLAV swims using the twin propellers and rudders for movement and steering.  A guard protects these devices during cross country movement. Various tie-down points, trailer/towing connections and the ARN can also be seen.  

  The right rear hull mounts the infantry telephone box, atop which sits the aerial mounting unit.  The new Australian stop/turn/reverse indicators can be seen, as can the position and style of the “Caution Left Hand Drive” warning sign and the ARN.  

The front left hull top showing the winch fairlead assembly, headlight cluster, blackout marker, rear vision mirror and repeater speedo/rev counter box.  

The left front of the turret with smoke grenade dischargers, folded wire cutter and fluted 25mm barrel.  The new ventilator dome behind the driver’s hatch is also visible.  

The turret from the rear with aerials in position and hatches closed. The stowage basket details can be clearly seen.  The commander sits on the right and the gunner on the left.  

The MAG 58 7.62mm Machine Gun mounted between the crew commander and gunner on the forward part of the turret roof.  This weapon is fitted with a blank firing barrel.  

Comparison of the LAV-25 (left) and the ASLAV-25 (right).  Immediate detail differences include the headlight cluster and smoke grenade dischargers.  

The tyres of the ASLAV (left) are significantly different in size and pattern to the LAV series (right).  Note the lack of a propeller guard on the LAV.  

An elevated view of the ASLAV-25 fitted with the  Driver Training Turret. The offset of the turret is much more pronounced in this view.  Note the scraped paint on the trim vane on the lower hull front.  

The Driver Training Turret from the rear.  The radio installation can be seen through the rear glass, and the rear hull top ventilator is also visible

The right front of the Driver Training Turret with mirrors folded, windscreen wipers and aerial mounts. The double roof for reducing the heat within the turret is also visible.  











Combat weight


Maximum speed


Swim speed

10 km/hr  

Maximum range


Maximum trench crossing


Maximum grade


Maximum side slope



275hp Detroit Diesel 6V53T  


Allison MT653 (5 speeds forward - 1 reverse)

Main Armament

M242 25mm chain gun with Thermal Imaging Sight  

Secondary Armament

MAG 58 7.62mm machine gun mounted coaxially to the main gun; MAG 58 7.62mm machine gun (pintle mounted)  

Ancillary Armament

(2) 76mm Smoke Grenade Launchers (Clusters of 4)


  • (8) 76mm Smoke Grenades
  • 400 rounds 7.62mm
  • 210 rounds 25mm  

  • (8) 76mm Smoke Grenades

  • 800 rounds 7.62mm

  • 510 rounds 25mm  


Vision Devices


  • (3) M-17 periscopes

  • (1) night vision  

Vehicle Commander

  • (7) M-27 periscopes

  • (1) Thermal Imager  


  • (1) M-27 periscope

  • Thermal Imager  


Article Text and Photographs Copyright © 2000 by Paul D. Handel
Page Created 21 April, 2000
Last Updated 05 June, 2001

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