bookMilitary Briefs 4
ASLAV Australian Light Armoured Vehicle

Mouse House Enterprises®
By John Myszka

168 pages soft cover
ISBN 0 9577586 3

Review by Peter Brown

Australia is one of sixteen countries which operate the Piranha series of wheeled AFVs designed by the Swiss MOWAG company. Over 250 8x8 ASLAV are in service in a number of different configurations. They were originally intended to provide mobile armour for units operating in the harsh conditions of Northern Australia where a wheeled vehicle with long range was required.

To prove the concept a batch of  turreted LAV's were obtained from the US Marine Corps with some Canadian Bison APCs also loaned. Trials in 1990 and 1991 showed that they could do the job although a number of changes were found necessary to fit them for Australian use.

Since then two separate batches of LAVs both turreted, as basic APC with conversion kits for special roles such as ambulance or command vehicles, and dedicated recovery versions have been bought. Many improvements have been made as well, from external machine gun mounts to more mundane but important items such as a spare wheel carrier. ASLAV have been deployed to East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan where extra equipment for use on these missions includes spall liners, bar armour for protection against RPG attack and a Remote Weapon Station with surveillance equipment and a heavy machine gun.

With its history stretching back some 20 years there is a lot to tell about the ASLAV and it is well told here. Background details of the original requirement are followed by the initial Phase 1 trials, improvements resulting from these incorporated into the ASLAV Phase 2 vehicles and the later Phase 3 purchase with more changes. All stages are well illustrated, including photos of the LAVs on trial including markings and ghosted drawings of the ASLAV-25 recce vehicle, APC, recovery and fitters variants.

Production vehicles of all standards are shown in detail, close-up photos include all the detail a modeller could wish for including the driver training turret, weapons mountings, ambulance equipment, headlights, stowage and even the onboard fridge and propane cylinders. The crews are not forgotten, photos show their uniforms and equipment including body armour variations. Coverage extends to other options which were tested but not adopted including a special support vehicle, a 120mm turret-mounted  mortar and  TOW antitank missile launchers on the basic 25mm turret.

The second half of the book shows the ASLAVs in service in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan in a series of photos. For Iraq and Afghanistan service details of the different deployments with dates and the units manning them are included.

Appendices round off an already comprehensive coverage with specification figures, details of markings including photos showing standard and non-standard items, plus an organisation chart of a typical unit showing call signs. One sequence of photos shows the stages in painting the real vehicles.

Last but not least, modelling the ASLAV is briefly shown including a summary of the various conversion and update sets available from Mouse House's modelling arm Mouse Armour.

With so much included here, modellers will be hard-pressed not to find inspiration for models as well as the answers to detail questions. There is even a photo of the underside of one vehicle and others showing how a damaged wheel is chained out of the way. Apart from not including scale plans, little if anything left out.

Summing it up is even included in the Introduction by Australia's Deputy Prime Minister - "This book contains all a military buff would want to know about the acquisition and equipping of Australia's ASLAVs".

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Contact Mouse House Enterprises® for purchase details:
PO BOX 9112
Deakin ACT 2600
Phone 61 2 4844 6271 (local 02 4844 6271)

Page Created 7 May 2009