The Komatsu light armored vehicle (LAV) is a Japanese military vehicle first produced in 2002. Currently used exclusively by the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF), it 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 vehicle can be carried inside some military helicopters and under slung CH-47J or C-130H transport aircraft for emergency air-drops. It can be airdropped from transport aircraft by use of a parachute platform..
Japan is the only operator of this armored vehicle, as Japan’s laws do not allow export of weapons and military equipment. The Komatsu LAV had made its first appearance in Kuwait when JGSDF units had deployed the Komatsu LAV prior to humanitarian operations in Samawah, a city in Iraq, 280 km (174 mi) southeast of Baghdad. An initial 400 LAVs were brought into JGSDF service in March 2005. The vehicle replaced the HMV Hayate and Type 73 small utility vehicles as they were not capable of providing protection against small arms fire. JASDF base security units are also equipped with the LAV as a main vehicle for patrols.
The LAV is armed with a Sumitomo M249 LMG (light machine gun) or a Sumitomo M2HB 12.7mm machine gun for anti-personnel missions. It can also be mounted with the Type 01 LMAT man-portable fire-and-forget anti-tank missile or a Kawasaki Type 87 anti-tank missile for anti-armoured roles. The weapon systems fitted on the vehicle are surrounded with an armoured turret to protect the gunner. The vehicle also features a pintle-mounted turret and two smoke grenade launchers on the rear side.
The Komatsu LAV design incorporates a welded steel armour construction on a chassis fixed to 4×4 wheel configuration. It has an overall length of 4.4m, width of 2.04m and overall height of 1.85m. The empty weight is 4,500kg.It is claimed that its armor protection is better than that of uparmored HMMWV. The vehicle can accommodate four crew members. this armored vehicle is fitted with a liquid cooled 4-cycle diesel engine of 160h, pprovides a top speed of 100km/h. The power pack is mounted centre forward of the vehicle to distribute weight more evenly between the axles. The LAV can travel more than 200 miles without refuelling. It is fitted with all run-flat tyres.