The formal announcement by Chile’s Marine Corps of finalizing its acquisition of twenty-two NZ LAV III 8×8 Wheeled Armoured Combat Vehicles from the New Zealand Army culminates over a decade effort by the force to gain a power projection manoeuvre capability.
This acquisition parallels its decision to further expand its current amphibious warfare fleet by four additional locally produced ships. Adoption of the NZLAV will allow the Marines to both land from sea and to undertake mobile combined arms operations ashore. They are also well suited to peacekeeping mission employment, a task in which Chilean forces have increasingly participated.
The NZ LAV’s were developed by General Motors of Canada now General Dynamics Land Systems Canada. The design was built for the Australia and New Zealand and is a variant of the LAV III in service with the Canadian Forces. Equipped with a M242 25mm Bushmaster auto-cannon, two 7.62mm machine guns coaxial and roof mounted, and is able to carry up to six dismounts the vehicle offers high mobility both on and off-road as well as swim capability.
First acquired by New Zealand in 2001 they served in Afghanistan. The approximately twenty NZ LAV declared surplus in 2010 and likely make up the majority of the Chilean acquisition. Chile has previously considered acquiring the Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV7) or the US Stryker options that are not likely to be pursued at least in the near term.
Chilean government sources indicate the current vehicles will be delivered in two tranches with the first in 2022 and the second in 2023. The Marines total requirement is understood to be around forty vehicles with a source for the balance still to be identified, although Australia which is replacing their AS LAV with the Boxer could be a possibility. It is noteworthy that the Chilean Army uses the similar MOWAG Pirana built under license by FAMAE the government arsenal.
by Stephen W. Miller