A special thanks
is extended to Rick Purves whose"hands on"
experience and knowledge regarding the Bison development program
has been invaluable.
In 1988, General Motors Diesel Division, in a private venture, designed and built the prototype of an 8 x 8 armoured personnel vehicle based on the chassis and automotive components of the LAV which the company has built for the U.S. Marine Corps. The Canadian Army placed an order for 199 of these APCs to equip Reserves units. Called the "Bison" by the Canadians, the first production vehicle was completed in 1990.
The Bison is powered by the General Motors Detroit Diesel and can attain speeds on land of 100 km/h. It's fully amphibious with two propellers mounted on either side at the rear of the hull. Steering is power assisted on the front two axles. The crew consists of two; a commander and driver and it can carry an additional nine infantry troops. The vehicle is armed with a 7.62mm MG on a ring style mount and 2 x 4 smoke grenade dischargers.
As with all of the LAVs produced by General Motors, the driver is seated on the left front of the vehicle with the commander located to his rear in a raised cupola. The engine is located to the right of the driver and the rear part of the vehicle consists of the troop compartment. Infantry troops are seated on bench style seats along either side of the vehicle. Entry and exit from the vehicle for the infantry troops is by either the hydraulic operated ramp at the rear, or by roof hatches that are located over the crew compartment. The commander and driver have their own hatches.
The Canadian Army order consisted of 149 APCs (Infantry Section Carriers), 18 Command Posts, 16 x 81mm mortar carriers, and 16 maintenance and repair vehicles (Mobile Repair Teams) that are fitted with a hydraulic crane. Since the initial purchase, 22 have been converted to ambulance versions and the 16 mortar carriers have been converted to a Royal Ordnance mortar mount which allows firing from the vehicle. That conversion required a total redesign of the interior of the vehicle. Still other Bisons have been converted to electronic warfare vehicles. An engineering variant has also been developed with hydraulic tools and an auger.
A new Maintenance and Recovery (MRV) is currently under development which will provide support to the Canadian LAV fleets including the Coyote and also the new Kodiak vehicle. The prototype has recently completed trials at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina where it worked in conjunction with the U.S. Marine Corps who are equipped with the LAV-25. It's most unique feature is a 20 tonne capstan winch which utilizes a Canadian made synthetic rope that replaces steel cable. As the synthetic rope is much lighter in weight than steel cable, the vehicle can carry 200 metres. The rope is deployable by one man with 'tension in and out' and is operated by a radio remote control. The vehicle is equipped with a ground spade to anchor the vehicle during pulls. The spade is actually a hydraulically operated front dozer blade made of RHA steel which can also fulfill secondary roles such as obstacle clearance. The MRV is also equipped with with a stowable A-frame for the removal of turrets and power packs, similar in concept to the U.S. M88 ARV. The A-frame was chosen over a hydraulic crane to keep the overall vehicle weight at a minimum.
The Bison is also in service with Australia and the U.S. National Guard.
LAV-APC "Bison" troop compartment.
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© Chris Johnson, 1997