Navy Buys New Landing Craft Air Cushion for Amphibs

Navy Buys New Landing Craft Air Cushion for Amphibs

Navy is about to begin production of its first nine new Landing Craft Air Cushions, or LCACs, as part of a broad effort to recapitalize existing shore connectors and replace the service’s aging fleet, service officials said Jan. 16 at the Surface Navy Association Annual Symposium, Crystal City, Va.

“A contract was awarded for the first nine LCAC replacements and we’re in design now and heading to a production readiness review this year,” said Capt. Chris Mercer, amphibious warfare program manager.

The LCAC contract mentioned by Capt. Mercer was awarded to Textron Marine & Land System, who is currently working on a next-generation LCAC replacement called Ship to Shore Connector, or SSC.  The first SSC is slated to arrive in 2017.

The Navy wants to sustain, maintain and modernize its fleet of 81 LCACs, the ship-to-shore boat vehicles able to transport troops, weapons, vehicles, equipment and even tanks to shore. Existing LCACs are engineered to transport up to 150,000 pounds and can carry as many as 180 people. Using four gas-turbine engines and two four-bladed propellers, LCACs can travel through water, ice, snow, sand and tundra.

Textron leaders say the next-generation LCAC will build upon the successful technology of the original, but add some new features such as joystick controls and innovative aluminum materials.  The new LCAC or SSC is being engineered with two Rolls Royce engines and will be able to reach speeds of 50 knots, said Tom Walmsley, general manager, Textron.

The SSC is engineered with a simpler, more efficient drive train using one gearbox per side, Navy charts show. Fewer parts allow for less maintenance and higher reliability. In addition, the use of an aluminum alloy and additional composite materials is expected to greatly reduce corrosion for the new vehicle.

Also, the SSC’s gear-driven bow thrusters are designed for increased reliability, Navy charts explain.

Along with the effort to acquire new LCACs, which is expected to move toward a larger production contract, the Navy is also progressing along with an effort to recapitalize the existing fleet of LCACs, Mercer said.

Mercer said the Navy is about three quarters of the way through with what it calls a service life extension for 72 of its LCACs.

“This includes adding an amphibious assault direction system, a radio-based networking system that links up our craft and our ships to that we know where everyone is during an assault. A common operational picture is shared in the ship,” Mercer added.

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With all the several annual landing exercises and their constant use overall, I was wondering when this would happen.

“LCACs can travel through water, ice, snow, sand and tundra.”

Actually, they travel over those things, not through them …

it’s pretty hard to screw up a successful platform, so in the spirit of the “modern Navy” we are going to do this LCS/F35 style

–it will now be called a “shore connector frame“
–it will be modular so that capabilities can be “swapped out” as needed
–the “shore connecter frame” will only cost $200 million each
–it will have a “steering“module,” a “loading module, a “navigation module” and even a “Surface Warfare Module” with it’s highly potent 20 mm gun, but the best news is that these modules are slated to be ready by 2035! But no worries, the modules will be well under $100 million a piece.
–the Navy wants to build 1000 of these shore connector frames, and they anticipate that it’ll make up the “bulk of the Navy” in the next 20 years
–but no worries, we’re outsourcing it’s 5 million lines of code to our friends in India, so it’s sure to work the first time, and no more than 40% of the shore connector frame will be make up of Chinese parts
–But I saved the best for last, Lockhead will be the general contractor

You hit that Nail right on the head,

I bow before your snarc in this comment sir.

There is no need to replace these vehicles. They have never been used in combat and never will. They are typical of the 3 generations of useless weapon systems we keep on hand “just in case”. Meanwhile wars are lost one after another.

Clueless Oblat once again chimes in, upset that the LCAC hasn’t fulfilled his juvenile fantasy of recreating the Normandy landings. Ideally you don’t bring an LCAC onto an occupied beach, Its speed and ability to deal with all sorts of terrain means enable it to deploy forces to where the enemy isn’t. It can access 80% of the world’s coastlines as opposed to 20% or so a traditional landing craft like the LCU can use..

The LCAC has seen many hours of operation and is very useful at getting Marines to where they need to be. Do you want them gone without replacement so the USMC will be weaker while you cheer on the Chinese like you always do.

when is the last time this vessel has been used to land marines for an amphibious assault? the lcac is a very nice piece of equipment that is unlikely to be used in the assault on another country. the politics have come into play as there is a law against purchasing equipment for the military that is not made in the USA. who is going to service a rolls Royce engine and who can afford parts for the engine? the harrier jet was a waste of money(it uses all its fuel to take off & the parts, when available, are extremely expensive) and this will follow suit, come on now $200 million for a rubber boat that is unlikely to be used and can be made in a very short time if needed.

All this to invade Taiwan to save the from the Chinese invasion force. Amphibious assualt is a political tool and not a realistic plan in the modern antiaccess environment.

Rubber boat? Dude, you have no idea what you’re talking about. Take a look at the size and carrying capability. There are rubber skirts for the aircushion but the hull is metal. Rolls Royce engines are used on a wide variety of airplanes and ships and are competitively priced.

By the way, Harriers actually were fairly good on fuel use when they did a regular runway takeoff. Its the vertical takeoffs that used so much fuel.

3rd generation and never used in combat. Sounds much like our family eh Bill LOL.

You do realize being able to deliver 65–75 tons of equipment, personnel, supplies,etc from a ship to shore quickly (40kts) is not just a great way to keep supplied but also a great way to increase the area you can threaten thereby increasing the expense and amount of land a enemy has to protect right?

Yea, didn’t think you thought about that. But then most people seem to think war revolves around cool jets and guns and stealth warships.

A bit more to it than that.

Step one: Always change the name, the new model is STILL an LCAC but we can’t call it THAT!! The LCAC was a major step forward in amphibious warfare.….I shudder to think what the ‘improved’ units will be like.

Perhaps he’d be happy with our WWII ‘alligators’; after all, they HAVE seen combat.

Don’t want to intrude upon your ignorance, but the AV-8B Harrier was built right here in this country by a little known company called “McDonnell-Douglas”; The Rolls Royce engines will very likely be supported and serviced by Rolls-Royce USA.…. When was the last time we fired a Minute Man missile in anger? If your best argument against something is that it’s never been used, you need to go down to the library and check out a history book.

Makes you wonder if it would make more sense to embark vehicles that could go ashore on LCAC/SSC, instead of putting so much into EFV/MPV/MAPC/nameofthemonth vehicle that directly rolls off the well deck and must either plod along slowly to shore, or carry amphibious capability to a land fight.

What might make more sense is carrying LCAC’s on a separate ship and bringing them to the fight to add surge load/offload capability when it’s needed, in addition to whatever you carry aboard. It’s probable that this has been wargamed already.

EFV and the others that you mentioned are replacements for the LVTs and are for the assault echelon (1st and 2nd waves) which is NOT where you’d want LCACs and Landing craft. LVTs sit low in the water and are somewhat armored so that the opposition can’t make a cheap kill on them. LCAC and landing craft are softer targets and more about getting tonnage ashore then protecting that tonnage.

WWII alligators have been out of the inventory for decades. Latest version is the LVTP-7 which were bought in the 70’s

Perhaps you should read the whole thread instead of just my response?

I don’t recall at the moment, when was the Minuteman III last used in anger? Bah, never mind, we don’t need them new fangled doohickys anyhow, dagnabit.……we’ve got the “Fat Man” and the “Little Boy!” If it was good enough for your great granddad, it’s should be good enough for you, eh? Semper Fi

They have done humanitarian relief missions and were used to put Marines into Somalia.

blight_, such ships are being built as we speak!: http://​en​.wikipedia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​M​o​b​i​l​e​_​L​a​n​d​i​n​g​_​P​l​atf

you need to check your source. most of the parts for the av-8b were made in Britain, designed by British Eng., etc. md assembled the bird. rolls Royce engines have been notorious for expensive parts that is why Israel, Saudi, Egypt, just to name a few, does not use them anymore. just look at the Landover that Britain is in charge of the production, try pricing a clutch for one. we need a few of the landing craft there is no doubt about that, how many I have not access to the info for that. they are noisy, require a ship to support it and they work quite well for what they are designed for. I am really hoping that we do not deploy a force that requires the boat but that bubble will eventually break. the marines have carriers of helo’s and personnel they would be good for support of that force. going 50 mph on the ice should be lots of fun also

shipfixr, I didn’t think a sarc tag was necessary on so obvious a snarky comment, but in this case…

So it would appear.….;-P

My source is just fine; the Brits dropped out of the project in the mid-70’s leaving MD to develop the final and improved airframe AV-8B which was constructed at their St Louis plant. In ’91, at the urging of the Brit MoD, they rejoined the team as a junior partner. The Rolls Royce Engine was (and is) seen as the best power plant for the Harrier; I think you’ll find that Pratt & Whitney partnered with them. As best I recall, all the B-model Harriers in the British inventory were built under license from MD. A very small % of the U.S. aircraft’s equipment (no avionics) comes from the UK. I was aboard USS Independence in the mid-60’s when they were doing the U.S. shipboard tests on the Harrier’s forerunner the name of which escapes me; it was built 100% by Hawker Sidldeley…the result was the AV-8A which is no comparison to the ‘B’

TonyC, please answer the following if you can

1.) Is “amphibious assault” the only “political tool” out there, or are there others?
2.) So you “know” China is going to invade Taiwan eh, do you have a crystal ball?
3.) What is your definition of a “modern anti-access environment,” and can you give us an example of one?
4.) Follow on to #3, if these anti-access environments are real, what does your superior military mind suggest, does a modern military defeat a so called modern anti-access environment?

We are all waiting for your wisdom.….…or not.

If anything the LCAC and future hovercraft are more important with the cancellation of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. The new ACV won’t have the swimming speed or range the EFV was supposed to provide so there may be scenarios where the best solution is to have hovercraft bring the amtracks most of the way and just leave them to swim the last couple of miles.

that’s a very interesting idea, is the Corp thinking about doing that?

More money spent that we don’t have. We may be speaking russian by 2035.

Just wondering…why not update the LCU platform considering it would cost millions less to John Q. taxpayer. The present LCU’s at Assault Craft Unit’s 1 & 2 are the Vietnam-Era boats and have proven over and over that they can haul twice the amount of “product” at half the speed — that’s not a typo. Sea spray and Speed is the only thing going for the LCACs but they have not been tested in actual combat — a couple of .50 cal type projectiles towards the fan blades and they are OOC.

former ACU-1 Sailor.

You’re right, amphibious assault is a very physical operation,forceed entry, blunt trauma, boots on the ground job and all the ‘cute stuff’ they keep foisting upon Sailors and Marines to accomplish it is for corporate profit nothing more. It doesn’t work and will cost more lives than save. (how do you work towing and salvage on an LCAC??) I ran salvage boats for way too many operations off way too many ‘gator freighters’, and the very idea of ‘flying’ an LCAC onto the beach makes me cringe. Anyone with a heat seeker has its number, yeah we stopped at waters edge and artillery knew we were there, but the boats equipment and men knew how to handle it. Of coarse we also had REAL gun fire support too, how do you secure a landing beach with missiles???????

Though I do like diversity in amphib operational equipment, everyone keeps forgetting that LCACs are usually not the first wave assaulting the landing zone.

Even so, preemptive Naval Gunfire Support and Air Support would likely remove those threats.

Takes WAY too long to load…

Reminds me of the “Send the M113 Gavin’s by LCACs a few miles off, then let them swim!” idea from some know-it-all on the internet.

Ignorance abounds on this site. The LCAC is used extensively. It’s a workhorse of the Navy/Marines. Most supplies are delivered by ships and not aircraft.…what do you think they use to get supplies off the ship when a pier isn’t available? Any amphib sailor will tell you that.

Hah, though Sparks advocated that amphibious kit. Not sure if that kit even took off anywhere.

If JSF-B croaks then we may have to look at re-engining the Harrier. Not sure what could be fitted in place of the Pegasus; and “porting” the LiftSystem would probably be impossible, or require incredible up-front costs (almost as high as the Marines procuring JSF-B by themselves, if need be).

That said, I wonder if the solution is CV-Lites and separate ships to carry marine equipment. Maybe shoehorning too many things into one hull is a bad thing?

Specialty hulls would be great if we had the bucks, but it’s looking like new hulls will be at a premium in the coming years. I’m guessing that’s why they stopped the no-well-deck America’s at just 2 and are going back to traditional well-deck-and-flight-deck ships. Same with the Burke’s and the Zumwalt’s and even the LCS’s — in theory all supposed to be able to do AAW, ASW, ASuW, and Strike to a greater or lesser extent (albeit one at a time in the case of the LCS). Even F-35 is a manifestation of this jack-of-all trades approach — although as several of you on the board have pointed out, cost spirals are such that 3 individual and separate aircraft developments would have been cheaper at this point…

The LCAC? I thought it was a roll-on roll-off sort of deal. At least the ACV should be able to swim in rough water unlike the M113. As far as I know they don’t even allow any of the M113s left in service to swim at all, due to fear the things will sink. But not to worry, according to Sparks we can just slap wings on them and make them fly.

There really isn’t an alternative for the Harrier. The Harrier was designed around the Pegasus which is a very specialized engine. Considering that both the Harrier and Pegasus have been out of production for a long time now (McDonnell Douglas isn’t even in business anymore unfortunately) the F-35B is the only shot at a STOVL strike fighter the USMC has for the foreseeable future. The retired UK Harriers we bought provides a nice pool of spare parts but that won’t last forever.

When you’re going through rough seas at potentially 50 kts with several tons of hardware, it would be common sense/common practice to tie it down with steel.

Doing that takes time…

When was the last time the Marines PRACTICED an amphibious assault?!

WE need this capability, but I do question whether we need 72 of them. I can’t image using more than 12 on any one beach in the world. Exactly how many amphib fleets do we have?

Try over a 100 actual amphibious operations since Korea — how’s that for practice

How many mulitlateral/multinational training exercises does the 31st MEU do annually?

How often are the USMC MEUs training to keep their SOC status?

The answer is at least half a dozen full scale exercises (including amphibious assault) minimum annually depending on the MEU.

Pacific Pivot dude.

We have alot to begin with, now we’re making more.

The McDonnell Douglas factory and workforce that built Harrier is now called “Boeing” in St Louis and currently makes F-18s. I agree that Harrier is wel out of production and the line can probably not be restarted without complete redesign .

Their going be fall apart anyways, a car not used starts break down if not used. This a big vehicle. Crews need practical experience using these craft and the soldiers can stand some practice as well.

Glad their starting to replace these boats, LCAC maybe not a solid LCU landing craft, but it can go where the traditional designs can’t. Unfortunately, their light weight in comparison to their heavier counterparts. Their not unlike aircraft.

We have 8 Wasps x 3 LCAC ea = 24. 1 Tarawa x 1 LCAC = 1. 8 Whidbey Island x 4 LCAC ea = 32. 4 Harper’s Ferry x 2 ea = 8. 8 San Antonio x 2 ea = 16. 24+1+32+8+16 = 81. Plus we have 3 more San Antonios building, and to my knowledge none of these ships are being retired anytime soon. So 72 is less than we could potentially carry. Granted, not every ship will be available at the same time, but neither will every LCAC. So 72 seems pretty reasonable to me.

We also have several Mobile Landing Platform ships that house several LCACs.

Therefore, we need more…

MLP? Hmmm?! I didn’t even know they existed, but I’m pretty ignorant of all things Navy. I’m not proud and will always admit it. This ship is perfect for my idea of a fast landing platform for Bradleys, where the platform is self powered, and because of just the thing you point out, would be designed for heavy seas. I see no reason why it couldn’t be V hulled or better yet, folding hydrofoils for stabilization. These platforms would be more like a large pallet, but with weight on top, actually be seaworthy. They could be carried close to the drop point and ejected with armor load on top; they could slide off the sides, left and right, of the LCAC, and if designed properly stabilize at full speed of the launch craft, although the speed of the parasite barge would be slower, and move all the way up to beach where the armored vehicle could step off right on shore. The hydrofoils would fold as it ditched onshore. Don’t ask me how to recover them, they’d be stuck until the tide changed. They would be similar to this, but with folding hydrofoils for storage, and more powerful propulsion.–1.jpg

In my vision, the armored vehicle could be mounted by the crew just prior to hitting the shore, and auto locks would release the tracks for deployment. They could use the cannon on the armored vehicle for landing defense, although the selected drop off point would have to be lightly defended of course. No Marine commander would pick a heavily defended shore.

Call me crazy or stupid, I don’t care! :)

Loose lips sink ships and in a time of war inventions rain! I’ve always believed that our own technologies would be used against us because we since Vietnam we talk too much and when Gen. West Moorland and Mac Namera gave in to the media we were telling where our troops were. Also, when I saw a map on Vietnam I saw the French and US fight like mirrors of each other.

The fact of the matter is that we could buy 400 of these and hire renowned sign interpreter and part time schizophrenic, Thamsang Jamtjie to explain why the Navy needs them. It makes no difference because our political leaders turn appeasement into policy and promotes our enemies expansion. Bottom line, our State Dept. and political leaders really don’t want the appearance of winning wars.

Captain Doc,

We are landing USMC as I type with these amazing platforms. There is no better in our inventory. Comparing a Harrier to an LCAC ca not be compared. The concept of operations are different. I have been an LCAC operator for 8 years and a prior LCAC Nav for 7 years. The SSC will absolutely save the tax payers tons of money. I assure you! LCAC/SSC are here to stay for awhile my friend. There is no better option when landing USMC.


We absolutely need 70 + craft. These craft are made of aluminum. Therefore like all things in the Military. We will need maintenance time to conduct preventive, corrosion control etc… East Coast, West Coast and the Unit from JAPAN will need craft as well. Then you will need craft to provide for training students coming in the program. Craft to support short fuzed humanitarian ops, etc..


Your exactly correct! They are more like an aircraft then most folks think. Once they come up inside the STBD Command Module. They always say, I had No IDEA! Rudder control, Yoke control for B/T and prop levers.

We proved it in Okinawa. Took two LCAC and offloaded the same size ship that an LCU was offloading with a later start time for the LCAC. We round robin’d it and had the ship offloaded in less than 3 hours. LCU was still humping up into the late evening. THIS IS FACT! I have been operating these things for along time and i absolutely don’t want to do anything else. USMC know if the loose these craft they will still get it done. But, it damn sure want be as efficient.

Where do you guys come up with this junk. Never planned for this mission and not doing it anytime soon. I am not far from where your talking about it. Go drink a beer are something! I am the guy that would be doing it! Folks are really so out of touch with the real world.

since ww2 there has been two operations that used water approaches by the usmc 3/9 8march68 and grandada, practice does not count here. if there were landings under fire during korea I am not privy to that info. the equipment is needed to support soldiers that are put into conflicts by air or other means. for the price they could be provided the air support instead of the amph. support. amphib. assaults obtained by taking a beachhead is not going to be considered if at all possible, the tactic is not phased out it just takes a lot of men for this type of assault.

They have been used in Gulf War 1 & 2. They’re not a floating tank; they carry them to the beach

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