Canada (1976)
Reconnaissance AFV – 195 built

The AVGP (Armoured Vehicle General Purpose)

Back in 1977, the Canadian Government ordered three armored fighting vehicles for the military, to be named later the Grizzly, Cougar and Husky. Rather than building them from scratch, it was quickly chosen to derive these from the six-wheeled version of the proven Swiss MOWAG Piranha I. On the same modular basis was developed a reconnaissance vehicle (the Cougar), an armored personnel carrier (APC), the Grizzly, and an armoured recovery vehicle (ARV) to assist both, the Husky. The Cougar entered service in 1976 and stayed active until 2005, when the vehicles were gradually retired and replaced.

Development & design of the Cougar

The Cougar was developed from the Mowag Piranha I, the famous Swiss wheeled armored vehicle that significantly influenced NATO and worldwide designs with its whole range of highly modular, multipurpose vehicles. Basically it was the 6×6 variant of the vehicle, fitted with the turret of the British Scorpion reconnaissance vehicle (76 mm main gun). Like the original Piranha, the Cougar had the same RHA welded steel hull, making it completely amphibious. It had a typical lozenge section and a pronounced beak nose with a two-step sloped front section. Protection was assured against small-arms fire and artillery splinters all around, and against heavy caliber MG rounds on the nose. The driver was located next to the engine, left front, with a hatch and three periscopes (the central one could be replaced by a night vision device), plus a folded windshield. The commander and gunner took place in the central fighting compartment inside the two-man turret. There were also 2 soldiers seated in the rear of vehicle, who could disembark through the rear doors, but they had no pistol ports.

Cougar in exercises
AVGP Cougar in exercises

The Cougar was propelled by a sturdy Detroit Diesel 6V53T two-cycle turbo-charged diesel which gave 275 hp (for ten tons), which traduced into a top speed of 100 km/h (60 mph), and about 50-60 km/h off-road on average. This capability was augmented by two propellers at the rear and a trim vane at at the front, erected before any crossing, as well as the bilge pumps activated before swimming. The Cougar could overcome a 60% gradient slope, or 30% side slope, 0.8 m high wall or gap a 1.20m trench. The Cougar’s main armament was the 75mm low-velocity L23A1 gun, which could fires HESH, Smoke BE (base ejected), and Canister rounds for infantry support, coupled with a 7.62 mm machine gun (C6) mounted co-axially. For active concealment, the turret received two clusters of four 66 mm smoke grenade launchers No 12.

Active service

The Cougar was used both for training and as a reconnaissance vehicle, and by armoured units as a fire support vehicle. Humorously, it was often referred to as the “boat squadron”, as opposed to reconnaissance squadrons equipped with the tracked Lynx, and later the 8×8 Coyote. The Cougar was used by the UNPROFOR in ex-Yugoslavia.

The AVGP family of vehicles (cdts: missing-lynx.com)
The AVGP family of vehicles (cdts: missing-lynx.com)

In 2008, the Uruguayan Army purchased 44 surplus Cougars, rebuilt locally by the Chilean MOWAG-Piranha licence builder FAMAE, as turretless armoured personnel carriers. These were used by the UN (MONUC) in the Republic of Congo. Later on, as Cougars were gradually retired from service, some were modified into the Tav 2 variant for ERT tasks and given for free to the RCMP in British Columbia, March 2010. Also starting in the 1990s, in order to reduce maintenance costs, all marine propulsion systems started to be removed. All vehicles have been replaced in the Canadian Army by the Coyote. Although reliable, the Cougars were seldom-fitted for reconnaissance tasks, being too tall and having a slow firing armament not ideal for hit and run tactics.

Links

The AVGP series on wikipedia
The Cougar on CASR.ca

AVGP Cougar specifications

Dimensions 5.97 x2.50x 2.50m ( x x ft)
Total weight, battle ready 10,7 tons
Crew 3+2 (driver, cdr, gunner +2 infantry)
Propulsion Detroit Diesel 6V53T Turbodiesel 275 hp
Suspension 6×6 independent coil springs
Speed (road) 100 km/h (60 mph)
Range 500 km (300 mi)
Armament 75mm L23A1, coaxial 7.62mm C6
Armor 8 mm sides to 13 mm front (0.3-0.5 in)
Total production 195 in 1976-80
Camouflaged Cougar in exercises, late 1980s.
Camouflaged Cougar in exercises.

Cougar in peace-keeping operation for the UN
Cougar in peace-keeping operation for the UN.

Cougar in the original plain green livery
AVGP Cougar in green livery

Video

Gallery


AVGP Cougar in an obstacle course, 1976 trials.

Canadian AVGP swimmingCougar rearAVGP Grizzly

Canadian M4A2(76)W HVSS Sherman 'Easy 8'
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One Response to AVGP Cougar

  1. Anthony Sewards says:

    The write up is not correct as the AVGP Cougar was used by armoured units as a fire support vehicle and tank trainer, for those units not equipped with the Leopard tank. The reconnaissance role came much later in the mid 90’s. And was phased out in 2004 from the reverse units. The top side drawing is also incorrect, as it shows an early version painted monotone colour fitted with the spare tire on the front, which never happened until the early 2000’s. The United Nations side view is also incorrect, as by 1997, the tour had changed from UNPORFOR to IFOR/SFOR and they would have been painted like the top version.

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