The Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) has successfully completed the delivery of a significant military asset to the Chilean Marine Corps, marking a crucial milestone in international defense cooperation. Pucará Communication reported that this achievement underscores the importance of surplus military equipment sales in strengthening the capabilities of allied nations and fostering collaboration in the global defense community. In a transaction that has been years in the making, the New Zealand Defence Force made a landmark decision to sell 22 NZLAV 8×8 vehicles to Chile, officially announcing the sale on April 20, 2022. The arrival of these armored vehicles on Chilean shores, with the first batch touching down in San Antonio in September 2022 and the second batch arriving in early July of this year, represents a significant leap forward for the Chilean Marine Corps.
The NZLAV 8×8, or New Zealand Light Armored Vehicle, is a versatile and robust platform originally designed to serve the reconnaissance and advanced observation needs of the New Zealand Army. Measuring 6.98 meters in length, 2.83 meters in width, and 2.87 meters in height, with a weight ranging from 19 to 21 tons depending on the configuration, this vehicle is a formidable asset for any military force. Its versatility extends to its transportability, as it can be seamlessly deployed by land, sea, and air, making it ideal for various operational scenarios. With a crew of three, comprising the commander, gunner, and driver, the NZLAV 8×8 can accommodate an additional seven fully-equipped soldiers, thereby enhancing its role as a force multiplier. Its primary armament is a potent 25 mm Northrop Grumman M242 Bushmaster automatic cannon, boasting a substantial 420-round capacity. In addition to this firepower, the vehicle is equipped with two 7.62 x 51 mm FN Herstal Mag machine guns and eight grenade or smoke launchers, fortifying its self-defense capabilities.
The NZLAV 8×8 offers comprehensive protection against 7.62 mm ammunition and can be further outfitted with a ceramic armor kit for shielding against 14.5 mm machine gun fire. Its reinforced running gear provides enhanced mine protection, while automatic fire-extinguishing and NBC (Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical) protection systems ensure the safety of its crew in challenging environments. Powering this formidable armored vehicle is a robust 350 hp Caterpillar 3126 HEUI diesel engine, delivering the necessary horsepower for swift mobility. The hydropneumatic suspension system, coupled with a central tire inflation system controlled from the driver’s station, allows the NZLAV 8×8 to adapt seamlessly to diverse terrain conditions, making it highly maneuverable in a wide range of operational environments. The vehicle has a 19 – 21 metric tonne Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (depending on configuration) and is transportable by land, sea and air, including C- 130 airlift.
It is important to note that the NZLAV 8×8 is derived from the General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada (GDLS-C) Third Generation Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV-III) platform, manufactured in Canada by General Dynamics Land Systems. The New Zealand armed forces purchased 105 LAV from General Dynamics Land Systems Canada. The licensing agreement for the vehicle’s design originates from the renowned Mowag Piranha 8×8 platform. New Zealand made a strategic investment in this technology, procuring a total of 103 units in the early 2000s. However, the vehicles that were delivered to Chile had been placed in long-term storage since 2012, eagerly awaiting a potential buyer. The sale to the Chilean Navy was brokered by Canadian Commercial Corporation, a Canadian Government organisation that supports international trade arrangements.