New Armored Vehicle Begins Army Transformation

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 22, 2001 -- "It drives like a Caddy," was
Pfc. Shaun Ratcliff's assessment of the new Army Light
Armored Vehicle III displayed at the Pentagon May 17.
Ratcliff, an infantryman with the 5th Battalion, 20th
Infantry at Fort Lewis, Wash., said the eight-wheeled
armored vehicle handles well and would be perfect for
combat in the cities.
If all goes well with the system, the Army hopes to buy
2,131 of the vehicles to outfit six brigades. Officials
said the first brigade could be operational by spring 2003
with initial operating capability by November 2003.
The 37,000-pound vehicle has a 350-horsepower diesel engine
and will go 60 miles per hour with a full combat load. It's
small and light enough to fit into a C-130 transport. As an
infantry carrier, it has room for a nine-man squad and a
crew of two. Its 14.5mm of armor can stop small-arms fire.
Additional ceramic armor will stop rocket-propelled
The vehicle will serve as the basis for other specialized
carriers. The basic version has a mount for a 40 mm grenade
launcher, a .50-caliber machine gun or an M-240 7.62mm
machine gun. The Army intends to mount an auto-loading 105
mm gun on one version. Other versions will be tailored to
operate as engineer vehicles, mortar vehicles, medical
evacuation vehicles, chemical warfare detection vehicles
and anti-tank vehicles.
The Army has borrowed similar vehicles from the Canadian
armed forces. Two battalions at Fort Lewis, the 1st
Battalion, 23rd Infantry, and the 5th Battalion, 20th
Infantry, are working on doctrine and techniques. Army
officials said that this head start on training and
doctrine will save time in the long run by allowing
battalions and brigades to form that much faster.
The Army will announce the name of the new class of
vehicles in October.