|Manufacturer:||General Motors Of Canada Limited|
|Product type:||Armoured Vehicles|
|Name:||Wheeled armoured personnel carrier|
In 1988, the Diesel Division, General Motors of Canada (which today is General Dynamics Land Systems - Canada) designed and built within seven days, as a private venture, a new 8 × 8 armoured personnel carrier based on the chassis of the LAV (8 × 8) vehicle described in a separate entry.
The turret of the LAV was removed and a raised commander's cupola with five M17 day periscopes and an externally mounted 7.62 mm machine gun was fitted to the immediate rear of the driver's station at the front left side of the hull.
The troop compartment had a raised roof that ran to the rear of the vehicle with roof hatches and a power-operated ramp rather than doors as on the US Marine Corps vehicles. No firing ports were provided although two vision blocks were mounted in the rear ramp.
In addition to the commander and driver, the vehicle carried eight fully equipped troops, seated four down each side facing each other.
Standard equipment included a front-mounted winch, while optional equipment included a fire detection and suppression system, a wire cutter, an NBC defence system and passive night vision devices.
Following trials with the prototype vehicle in July 1989, the Canadian Department of National Defence awarded the now General Dynamics Land Systems - Canada a contract worth CAD100 million to build a total of 199 vehicles to a slightly modified design for the Canadian Militia.
The full Canadian designation of the Bison is Militia Light Armoured Vehicle (MILLAV).
First production vehicles were delivered in the second quarter of 1989 with deliveries running through to 1993. The Canadian Forces call the vehicle the Bison with the 199 vehicles originally consisting of the following versions:
- 149 APCs
- 18 command post vehicles
- 16 81 mm mortar carriers
- 16 maintenance repair vehicles with the same crane as the Husky 6 × 6 vehicle already in service with the Canadian Forces. This can carry a complete power pack internally
The Bison can be quickly adapted for specialised roles as the baseline vehicle has a rail system fitted as standard.
In addition, four vehicles for trials were loaned to the Royal Australian Army, which has since placed an order for a total of 276 vehicles in six different configurations. All of these have now been delivered to Australia where they were fitted out by the now BAE Systems, Australia. The armoured fighting vehicle business of BAE Systems, Australia has now been taken over by the Australian company Tenix Defence Systems.
Canada loaned 12 vehicles to the US National Guard to support the US Drug Enforcement Agency. Since the start of this operation, the vehicles have taken part in several counter-narcotic operations. The evaluation was concluded in December 1992.
Late in 1994, an order was placed for 12 vehicles, which were delivered in 1995 to the US National Guard.
With the introduction of the latest LAV-III in the Canadian Army, the Bison are now being re-roled for a number of more specialised roles and the APC version will cease to exist.
Bison was quickly fielded with the Canadian Army to Somalia in 1990. The vehicle has also been deployed by the Canadian Army to Ethiopia/Eritrea, the Balkans, Haiti and Afghanistan.
The basic automotive layout of the Bison APC is similar to the LAV (8 × 8) with a hull of all-welded steel armour construction providing protection from small arms fire and shell splinters.
The driver is seated at the front left with the engine compartment to his right. The driver has a single-piece hatch cover that opens to the left and three M17 day periscopes, the centre one of which can be replaced by an AN/VVS-2(V)4 passive night vision device.
The commander is seated to the rear of the driver and has a single-piece hatch cover that opens to the rear and five M17 day periscopes, the centre one of which can be replaced by an AN/VVS-2(V)4 passive night periscope. A 7.62 mm C6 MG is mounted on a skate-type mount at the commander's station.
The troop compartment is at the rear of the hull with the troops entering and leaving via a large power-operated ramp that also has a door and two vision blocks.
The infantrymen sit on bench-type seats down either side of the hull with stowage provided under their seats and to their immediate rear. There is an additional seat to the immediate rear of the engine compartment bulkhead.
Over the forward part of the roof compartment is a three-part roof hatch, which opens left and right of the vehicle centreline. On the roof at the rear is a large stowage box with stowage racks being provided externally on either side of the vehicle.
Mounted on the top either side of the hull rear is a bank of M257 four-barrelled smoke grenade dischargers that cover the frontal arc of the vehicle.
Standard equipment includes a Halon 1301 fire suppression system in the engine and crew compartments, a front-mounted hydraulic winch with a capacity of 6,800 kg, an M8A1 ventilated face mask NBC system, a wire cutter forward of the driver's position and complete communications installation.
The Bison is fully amphibious with two minutes' preparation, being propelled in the water by two propellers mounted under the rear of the hull; to the rear of the propellers are two rudders. As the Bison vehicles go through their upgrade programme the amphibious capability is being removed.
A number of Bison vehicles will be fitted with a new wider tyre developed by Michelin (the 325/85 R15 XML). Trials have shown a significant improvement in mobility.
Some of the vehicles deployed to the former Yugoslavia were fitted with additional passive armour protection.
This is armed with a turntable-mounted 81 mm mortar for which a total of 90 mortar bombs is carried. It has a four-person crew consisting of driver, vehicle commander and two mortar crew. The vehicle is equipped with an 81 mm C5 mortar. In 1995, these vehicles received new roof hatches and the 81 mm mortar can now be fired from within the vehicle.
This has a five-person crew consisting of driver, vehicle commander and three radio operators and is fitted with extensive communications equipment.
Two-person crew consisting of driver and vehicle commander/rigger. Standard equipment includes a boom crane with a traverse of 265° and a maximum payload of 4,982 kg which can be controlled remotely and is also fitted with an overload protection system, two outriggers, two stabilisers, floodlights, towbars, a spare wheel and other specialised equipment.
With the introduction of the more recent General Dynamics Land Systems - Canada LAV-III (covered in detail in a separate entry), the Canadian Forces are now re-roling their existing fleet of 199 Bison (8 × 8) vehicles.
This re-role will be completed by 2011 with the work being carried out by General Dynamics Land Systems - Canada- and Ottawa-based Dew Engineering and Development Limited.
When complete the Bison will be re-rolled into the following specialised versions:-
- Ambulance (32)
- Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (C3I) (83)
- Electronic Warfare (16)
- Mobile Repair Team (32)
- Maintenance and Recovery Vehicle (32)
Improvements to be carried out to the Bison fleet include an increase in engine power to 300 hp, radiator stack from the General Dynamics Land Systems - Canada Coyote Reconnaissance vehicle fitted, command post vehicles and electronic warfare variants will be fitted with air conditioning system as standard, remainder of the fleet will be fitted for but not with air conditioning, stowage boxes will be added and the marine drives will be removed.
Other improvements will include the installation of heavier torsion bars, ventilated respirator system, IBD passive armour kit, ballistic crew seats and a Protected Weapon Station (PWS). The first upgraded vehicles were delivered back to the Canadian Army in 2003.
Following a competition, Rheinmetall Canada was selected, in mid-2000, to provide the PWS, which it has developed in association with the RAFAEL Armament Development Authority of Israel.
The PWS is armed with a 7.62 mm C6 machine gun which can also be aimed and fired by remote control and will go on the following vehicles:
- Mobile Tactical Vehicle Light and some of the M113A3 series vehicles (83)
- LAV-III (8 × 8) pioneer (39)
- Bison (8 × 8) 60
Prior to the above conversion programme, a number of the 149 Bison APCs were converted for a number of specialised roles. These include the following:
- five to engineer vehicles
- one or two to control vehicles for the Jingoss mine searching system
- one to TROLIP with Raytheon TOW ATGW
- 23 to ambulance
- two to electronic warfare