By the end of the seventies, the Pirani family was replenished with another project, this time an eight-wheeled vehicle. The Piranha 8x8 armored car had to expand the family and thus attract new customers who, for one reason or another, did not have the 4xXNNXX and 4x6 options. It is noteworthy that in the future the eight-wheel “Piranha” became the most popular model of MOWAG armored vehicles and now it is justly considered a separate line, uniting a fairly large number of armored vehicles. Due to the great success of the eight-wheeled platform, there was a noticeable change in the nomenclature. Earlier, armored cars received numbers in accordance with the order of the beginning of the project. Thus, the armored 6x8 received the alternative name Piranha III. However, on the basis of the original “Troika”, such a number of different modifications were created, which for convenience became known as Piranha I. At present, the number indexes of the “Piranha 8х8” line already contain the figure five.
Piranha II 8x8
Initially, the four-axle armored vehicle project was a further development of the ideology embodied in the Piranha 4х4. At the same time, the look required some design changes. All of them, first of all, dealt with the new chassis with a large number of wheels, on which it was necessary to transfer power. The overall layout of the hull remained the same - the engine is ahead to the right, the driver to his left and the troop compartment behind the engine and driver. The engine also remained the same - diesel Detroit V653T horsepower 275 hp Despite the increase in combat weight by a couple of tons compared to the six-wheeled variant, the Piranha-3 retained the main driving characteristics. The maximum speed on the highway and on the water remained the same - 100 and 10 km / h, respectively. One of the methods to ensure the "unification" of the characteristics was the limitations on the engine's operating parameters: the three-axle "Piranha", unlike the eight-wheel, did not use its potential to the full. Transmission Piranha 8x8, with the exception of the corresponding alterations, was similar to the units of the previous model. The same can be said about the suspension. The wheels of the first two axles had spring damping, the rest - torsion.
Piranha III 8x8
The level of protection of the armored hull remained the same. Plates with a thickness of up to 10 millimeters stopped 7,62-mm bullets, including armor-piercing. The armament complex was originally planned to be flexible and variable in accordance with customer requirements. A remote-controlled turret with an Oerlikon automatic cannon of 20 caliber of millimeters was installed on the prototype. In addition, in the back of the case of the first prototype of the Piranha 8 XX8, a seat was provided for another remotely controlled system with a rifle caliber machine gun. Already during the tests of the prototype, it turned out that the second turret does not give a proper increase in firepower, but significantly complicates the design. Therefore, all the serial "Piranhas" of various modifications were completed with only one tower or a remote-controlled installation. Like the previous model “Pirani”, the eight-wheeled armored car had four ball mounts in the sides of the troop compartment for firing from a personal weapons. Two more such units are provided in the stern doors. The landing and landing of six people was carried out through these doors. The reduction in the number of soldiers transported was due to the need to place the lower part of the tower with an automatic gun. In addition, part of the internal volumes were reserved for the future, in case of a change in the set of weapons. As it turned out, this was not done in vain. The own crew of a three-person vehicle (driver, commander and gunner) had its own observation devices, but the landing hatches were only above the commander’s and driver’s jobs. The shooter had to get into the car and leave it through the stern doors with the landing party.
Piranha IV 8x8
Like the six-wheeled version, the Piranha 8x8 was designed primarily for the Swiss army. However, the military leadership of the country turned its attention to the MOWAG project only in the mid-eighties. The first buyers of these armored vehicles were the Chilean armed forces. A production license was again acquired, according to which about 50 combat vehicles were assembled in FAMAE factories in the original configuration, as well as in variants of an ambulance and an anti-tank gun carrier.
At the very beginning of the eighties, MOWAG negotiated with Canada for the supply of finished machines or the sale of licenses for their production. GMC (General Motors Canada) was to become a Canadian manufacturer, which was given a part of the documentation. For several reasons, the official Ottawa did not hurry with the order, but the GMC leadership expressed its readiness to expand the production of Piranha 8x8, of course, if there are customers. It is unlikely that at that time anyone would guess what the consequences of these statements would be. Perhaps it was the agreement of MOWAG and GMC, as well as the intentions of the latter, that of the simple armored personnel carrier the founder of a full-fledged family of armored vehicles. However, this time a great future was not connected with the Canadian army.
Piranha V 8x8
LAV: Piranhas for USA
At about the same time, the command of the US Marine Corps began the LAV program (Light Armored Vehicle). The aim of the program was to create and / or purchase a large number of new combat vehicles suitable for use in the marines, in particular, for the implementation of amphibious assault forces. The technical task of the competition was rather vague and ambiguous, especially in terms of weapons and the level of protection. Due to certain circumstances, the drafters of the requirements provided the competing firms with a wide “scope” in the choice of these parameters. More or less clear were the points of the technical tasks related to running characteristics. The marines wanted a car that was fast on land and floating on water. In addition, the dimensions and weight of the finished product were supposed to ensure transportability by CH-53 helicopters and C-130 aircraft.
Two dozen applications were submitted for the competition, but only four projects reached the final stage of comparing documentation, including Piranha 8x8, presented by GMC. Due to the lack of clarity of the competitive task, both tracked and wheeled vehicles participated in the competition. In addition, their weapons differed significantly. In the fall of 1982, the Piranha was recognized as the winner of the LAV program. After such a decision, the competition commission nearly had a scandal. Representatives of the company Cadillac accused the commission and GMC in collusion and cited as evidence of the cheapness of their armored car V-150. However, the military eventually answered that in this case the main factor influencing the choice is not the price, but the fighting qualities. Cadillac V-150 won in price (about 400 thousand dollars apiece against half a million for each Piranha), but had the worst characteristics, first of all, protection and armament. Thus, the winner of the LAV program was the Swiss-Canadian project.
The initial plan of the Marine Corps meant buying about a thousand of these machines in various configurations, but later it was cut down by about 200 units. The most numerous version of the "Piranha 8х8" for the Marine Corps was the machine, named after the competition as LAV-25. The hull, power plant and chassis have not changed. From the Canadian designers demanded to install on the existing machine a new gun turret. In a double rotary unit placed automatic gun caliber 25 mm (hence the number in the name of the machine) M242 Chain Gun with ammunition in 210 shells and coaxial machine gun rifled with 400 cartridges. The guidance in the horizontal plane was carried out in a circle, and vertically in the range from -10 to + 60 degrees from the horizontal. LAV-25 also received two four-barreled smoke grenade launchers on the turret. It is noteworthy that the weapons complex of the Light Armored Vehicle had a certain potential for improvement. So, inside the case there was enough space for installing a new combat module or for laying additional ammunition to the old one. In the second case, it was 420 shells and 1200 cartridges. If necessary, in the same volumes it was possible to place the boxes for the ammunition of the fighters transported. "Diving" in the car, the landing could use additional shops for M16 rifles of all modifications for a total of four thousand rounds. Finally, on the roof of the turret, there were fastenings for the installation of a large-caliber machine gun M2HB.
In terms of production, the LAV-25 project was a real community of states. Armament and turret were manufactured in the United States, after which they were sent to Canada, where they were installed on ready-made hulls. In addition, some of the cars from the first installments then returned to the States, to the factory of the Arrowpoint company, which installed and tested communication and weapon control systems. By 1984, this “armored commonwealth” served as the basis for the formation of LAV battalions as part of the KMP divisions, one in each. New units received a hundred and fifty cars. Having an automatic gun, LAV-25 still remained armored personnel carriers. The 25-mm gun was insufficient to provide full fire support for the Marine Corps. For this reason, on the basis of all the same Piranha 8x8 tried to create armored vehicles with more powerful weapons.
LAV-105 or LAV-AG (LAV Anti-Ground - LAV To combat ground targets)
Let's start with the LAV-105 or LAV-AG (LAV Anti-Ground - LAV To combat ground targets). As is clear from the description of the base vehicle for the Marine Corps, the numbers "105" mean the caliber of the gun. Initially, 76 and 90 mm guns were considered as weapons for the support vehicle. However, calculations have shown their low efficiency. After a short search, the 105 mm EX35 cannon developed by Benet Laboratories was chosen as the most effective weapon, while having a relatively low mass. The development of a new turret for a large-caliber cannon was entrusted to Cadillac. In addition to the cannon, a coaxial machine gun was placed in the two-seater fighting compartment. The vertical aiming angles of the weapon were in the range from -8 to +15 degrees, as in tanks... Another feature that the LAV-105 inherited from the tanks was the weapons control system. To reduce the cost of development and production, it was maximally unified with the equipment of the M1 Abrams tank. However, unlike the same "Abrams", the LAV-105 combat vehicle received an automatic loader, which made it possible to fire up to ten rounds per minute. On fire trials, the new "wheeled tank" showed excellent results: the so-called typical moving target - it imitated the Soviet BMP-1 - was hit from the first shot. First of all, this fact spoke about the good performance of the ballistic computer and related equipment.
According to the plans for the LAV-105, the first vehicles of this model were to go to the troops in the 1994 year. However, funding difficulties allowed to make only one prototype, and he was converted from a serial armored personnel carrier LAV-25. In 1991, the LAV-105 project was suspended and then closed. A few years later, Cadillac, using its work on the tower, tried to push its own version of the LAV-105 to the countries of the Middle East, but did not achieve much success in this. The Cadillac project was closed after testing three prototypes.
Much more successful was the coherent version of the "Piranha 8х8" for the Marine Corps under the name LAV-C. It differs from the base machine by the absence of a tower and several antennas on the roof of the case. In addition, a small change undergone the former airborne unit, which installed radio equipment. LAV-C vehicles are attached to all battalions equipped with LAV-25.
One of the reasons for the closure of the LAV-105 project was the lack of need for another anti-tank vehicle. The fact is that the beginning of the installation of a tank gun on the Piranha chassis began around the time when the marines received the first LAV-AT armored vehicles (LAV Anti-Tank - Anti-Tank LAV). From the original LAV-25 they differed tower. Instead of a unit with a cannon and machine guns, an Emerson TUA combat module with two anti-tank BGM-71 TOW missile launchers was mounted on the body of an eight-wheeled armored vehicle. Inside the case housed ammunition of 14 missiles. Reloading launchers produced manually through the hatch behind the turret TUA. For self-defense machine was equipped with a machine gun M240. Each battalion has 16 anti-tank versions of LAV.
LAV-AD (Air Defense - LAV for air defense)
Since the late eighties, the LAV-AD complex has been developed (Air Defense - LAV for air defense). In the course of work, the composition of equipment and armament was changed several times. At a certain stage, it was even proposed to equip LAV-AD with unguided Hydra 70 missiles to fight helicopters. However, as a result, the LAV-25 armored car with the Blaser tower installed on it came out to the last tests. The twin-turret served as a support for a block of Stinger guided missile launchers, as well as a M25 242-mm cannon. Interestingly, in the early stages of testing involved four cars with slightly different weapons. According to the results of the first firing, the version with unguided rockets was considered ineffective. The rocket-gun version, in turn, turned out to be convenient and suitable for use in the armed forces. The plans of the KMP command included 125 air defense vehicles. However, funding cuts did not complete the finalization of LAV-AD and put the car into service. In 1992, the US Army attempted to reanimate the project, but financial problems buried it a second time.
Simultaneously with LAV-AD, another piranha-based combat vehicle was developed. LAV-MEWSS was equipped with electronic warfare equipment. One of the main elements of the target equipment of this machine was the GTE Magic Mast antenna unit. On the telescopic 11-meter rod placed antennas radio station WJ-8618, radio AN / PRD-10 and station jamming AN / VLQ-19. In addition to the equipment, the workplaces of two electronics operators were mounted inside the machine body. The total number of LAV-AD collected is estimated at 12-15 units. All vehicles were handed over to the marines by the end of the eighties.
The first combat use of armored vehicles of the LAV family took place in 1985 during the landing operation on the island of Grenada. Detailed information about the course of the fighting is not, but by indirect evidence it can be established that there was no irretrievable loss among American armored personnel carriers. Approximately the same thing happened during the battles in Panama. The first losses of LAV machines relate to Operation Desert Storm, when, for various reasons, at least a dozen or a half units were lost in battles and on marches. The degree of damage and maintainability, as well as the fate of the armored vehicles, was not disclosed.
Full-fledged mass production of LAV machines unfolded in Canada around the mid-eighties. The North American state received quite good profits in the form of taxes, but was in no hurry to acquire such equipment. Due to some economic and military-technical reasons, the Canadian military waited until the early nineties. Most likely, they were waiting for the first results of combat use. A couple of years after the war in Iraq - in 1994 - the official Ottawa ordered GMC about 500 armored vehicles in various configurations. Armored personnel carriers for Canada were almost completely similar to the LAV-25. After some minor improvements, they received a new name Bison. In addition, Canadians have independently created a modification of electronic reconnaissance LAV-R, equipped with light weapons and a block of receiving equipment. Some of the vehicles were equipped with a telescopic mast for lifting it, and some of them with an external tripod for installation away from the armored car.
After Canada, the desire to acquire the Piranha 8х8 in a version from GMC was shown by Australia. Swiss-Canadian armored cars have found a place for themselves in the reform complex under the general title “Army of the 21st Century”. Over the next years, the Australian military received two and a half hundred vehicles in the configuration of an armored personnel carrier, a connected armored car, an armored truck, an ambulance, etc.
Separately, it is worth noting the delivery of "Piranium 8х8" and LAV in Saudi Arabia. Having considered all applications, in the early nineties, the Middle Eastern country unconditionally chose four-axle armored cars, but for a long time could not decide on the company to which they will be ordered. MOWAG and GMC offered to buy almost identical cars. The problem was resolved by a small adjustment of the appearance of the necessary machine. The Swiss company agreed to slightly refine its Piranha 8x8, and GMC did not take that step. As a result, Saudi Arabia received over 1100 combat vehicles in ten versions.
Nikolsky M.V., Ilyin V.E. Wheel armored vehicles. - M .: Astrel / AST, 2001