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Background – the Armoured Personnel Carrier Life Extension Project

APCLE  –  DND's 'Armoured Personnel Carrier  Life Extension'  Project
The M113 suited CF NATO-dominated plans in the '80s but the operational realities of the '90s required the more flexible mobility of  wheeled LAVs. CF planners of the time intended to standardize all light armour on the new 8x8 LAV III. That plan proved untenable. [1] Less than half of the required 1500 LAV IIIs could be afforded  –  and the CF's aged M113s had to come to the rescue. But, the 'Buckets' were tired after almost 3 decades of service and a 'Life Extension'  project  was begun to rejuvenate the best surviving M113s. An upgrade package had already been designed by the M113's American manufacturer who allowed the CF to test prototype vehicles.

" ... then rushed  the steed  to  battle  driven ... "
Like upgraded US Army M113s,  CF vehicles are redesignated M113A3 or MTVL Mobile Tactical Vehicle, Light. CF  M113A3s differ in having the more powerful engine of a MTVL (US  M113A3s having only 275hp). Both TLAV varieties have a modernized driver position, improved tracks, [2] longer-travel suspensions, and armament changes (manned turrets or weapon stations).

The most obvious and dramatic change for the MTVL TLAVs is their stretched chassis resulting in six road wheels per side. The stretch adds space but also endows the MTVL with more high speed stability.  The conversion process involved a cut- and-splice of  two M113 hulls. It sounded straightforward but stripping 40 year old vehicles reveals surprises. That and lack of supervision resulted in total conversions being cut while still running over budget. [3]

" ... Lick o' paint ... " –  Some 'Go-Faster' Stripes for the "Bucket"
TLAV conversions were done at DND's 202 Workshop in Montreal. After strip-down and inspection, powerpacks and suspension arms (purchased as kits from United Defense ) were installed.  Speed and reliability were the goals with the TLAV able to keep pace with both tanks and  LAV IIIs. Unfortunately, TLAVs cannot fully exploit their new power (steering limitations restrict off-road speed to 60 km/h). But  fate intervened and  traction proved more important than speed.

Kandahar Changes Everything – TLAV Reprieve
When LAV IIIs encountered problems in Afghan- istan with ditches and  winter conditions, TLAVs were substituted. These vehicles featured bolt-on steel armour plate over their aluminum hulls  plus, in some cases, full bar armour  'cages'  (left). Most deployed TLAVs have the Soucy band tracks but a few retain metal tracks (right). When the LAV III is mobile, TLAVs provide support. TLAVs stand- in as APCs  but are not a LAV III replacement. [4]

[1] The thwarted plans to re-equip CF light armour exclusively with LAV IIIs would result in DND's  1999  Equipment Rationalization Plan. ERP was not a procurement plan  per se. The goal was to pad out the Regular Force's then-new LAV III fleet with older armoured vehicles from the Reserves (Bison and AVGPs) and  M113s.  ERP would oversee re-roling, the APCLE and Wheeled LAV LE would cover rebuilds.
[2] This includes metal or rubber 'band tracks'. New metal track life was expected to be double that of older track at half the cost  (although maintenance may cause problems for the unwary). The new track design also sacrifices the M113's amphibious character – the TLAVs are still buoyant but the old M113 was a 'track swimmer'. The quite-running rubber band tracks are one-piece items so maintenance is minimal.
[3] The APC Life Extension project ran $95M over budget. DND cut the APCLE by 30% – 289 M113A3 and MTVL conversions instead of the 406 planned. (The related WLAV-LE project ran into similar problems and  that refurbished AVGP fleet was quickly phased out.) Plans were made to accelerate the TLAV/M113's retirement  (Feb 2005 Budget)  but  wheeled LAV woes in Afghanistan would put a stop to that.
[4] In poor footing, the TLAV has the advantage but the old M113 was designed as an Armoured Personnel Carrier or 'Battle Taxi'. A LAV III, by contrast, is an Infantry Fighting Vehicle. DND is eyeing tracked IFVs to complement LAVs under the Close Combat Vehicle project.