A Komatsu LAV on display with 1st Airborne Brigade markings.
|Type||Light armored vehicle|
|Place of origin||Japan|
|Unit cost||¥30 Million|
|Number built||1855 (2014)|
|Crew||4+1 (MG or ATGM gunner)|
|Can mount the Sumitomo M249 LMG or Sumitomo M2HB 12.7mm machine gun. Can also mount the Type 01 LMAT or a Kawasaki Type 87 anti-tank missile.|
|Speed||100 km/h (Speeds can exceed 70mph)|
The Komatsu LAV (Japanese: 軽装甲機動車; kei-sōkō-kidōsha?), first produced in 2002, is used exclusively by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, and has seen use in the Iraq War. It is built by Komatsu Ltd. Defense Systems Division in Komatsu, Ishikawa, Japan. Komatsu's factory designator for the vehicle is KU50W.
The exterior resembles the Panhard VBL, used by the French army, but the LAV has 4 doors and a large cabin for carrying soldiers. The LAV can also be transported by air in vehicles like the CH-47J and the C-130H.
The Komatsu LAV was developed in 1997 to meet a JGSDF need for an armored wheeled vehicle that could provide armored protection since their Toyota High Mobility Vehicles and Mitsubishi Type 73 Light Trucks were not adequate to provide protection from small arms fire. They were initially created with the concept of a potential Soviet invasion during the Cold War before they were relegated to anti-terrorist/invasion operations.
It had made its first appearance in Kuwait when JGSDF units had deployed the Komatsu LAV prior to humanitarian operations in Samawa. An initial 400 LAVs were brought into JGSDF service in March 2005. JASDF base security units are also equipped with the LAV as a main vehicle for patrols.
No variants are known to be available, but the vehicle appears to have been built in at least three production models, namely KU50W-0002K, KU50W-0003K and KU50W-0005K.
The Komatsu LAV has open-split roof hatch of the vehicle provides additional protection to the gunner from all directions, if it is locked in an upright position. The vehicles deployed in Iraq are fitted with reinforced bulletproof windshields, wire cutters and a rotational armoured cover around the gun mount for extra protection.
For the LAV's engine, it is fitted with a liquid cooled 4-cycle diesel engine of 160 hp. The power pack is mounted centre forward of the vehicle to distribute weight more evenly between the axles. The propulsion system provides a top speed of 100 km/h, traveling more than 200 miles without refueling. It is fitted with all run-flat tires. The low turning radius allows the vehicle to negotiate narrow passages.
The Komatsu LAV can be armed with the Sumitomo M249 LMG or Sumitomo M2HB 12.7mm machine gun for anti-personnel duties. It can also mount the Type 01 LMAT or a Kawasaki Type 87 anti-tank missile for anti-armored missions. Smoke grenade dischargers can be mounted on the rear sides of the vehicle.
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