LCAC-100 class / LCAC(X) LCAC Replacement Tactical Assault Connector
The Ship-to-Shore Connector (SSC) program is the functional replacement for the existing fleet of vehicles, which are nearing the end of their service life. It is an air cushion vehicle designed for a 30-year service life. The SSC mission is to land surface assault elements in support of operational maneuver from the sea at over-the-horizon distances while operating from amphibious ships and mobile landing platforms. SSC provides increased performance to handle current and future missions, as well as improvements which will increase craft availability and reduce total ownership cost.
This new 2005 program replaced the cancelled 2004 Heavy Lift LCAC program. Research, development, test and evaluation began in FY 2006, and the first craft IOC is projected for FY 2014, versus the first Heavy Lift LCAC which was planned for procurement in FY2009.
The Seabase To Shore Assault Connector (AC), LCAC(X) is envisioned to provide high-speed, heavy-lift for over-the-horizon maneuver, surface lift, and shipping. The LCAC SLEP is capable of lifting 72 tons in extreme environmental conditions. The Assault Connector is expected to carry up to 150 tons, thus increasing capacity without additional platforms while reducing manning requirements. One promising alternative would be 50 percent longer than the LCAC, with enhanced lift fans and propellers and composite materials technology. These design features will allow the AC a 100 percent load capacity increase in armored combat vehicles (tanks and light armored vehicles) and heavy logistics loads. With AC the same combat buildup ashore can be accomplished with half the usable beach length, thus requiring fewer assault breaching lanes.
The Landing Craft Air Cushion [LCAC] ability to ride on a cushion of air allows it to operate directly from the well decks of amphibious warships and to access more than 70 percent of the world's beaches, compared with 17 percent for conventional landing craft. Current (LCAC) become inactive in 2026. R&D is leading to a production program that will develop a new landing craft with advanced technology, designated LCAC Experimental, or LCAC (X), to preserve expeditionary and sea-based fleets of the future.
The success of many military operations, especially against the terrorist threat, requires rapid response with significant logistical support. As history progresses, many countries are refusing to allow US forces responding to a threat to stage from their territories. This requires the responding forces and logistical support for these forces to travel long distances from cooperating countries, or operate from distant conventional ships. The long distances that must be traveled restrict the ability to respond quickly to local events due to time-on-station limitations, as well as response time. Conventional ships require significant time to travel to the local area and respond.
The current Navy/Marine Sea Basing program has pointed out the need for beachable reasonably high speed marine transports that are referred to as HSCs (High Speed Connectors). The concept behind Sea Basing is to have large supply ships positioned about 200 miles offshore with troops, supplies, vehicles, etc. transported to beachheads by the HSCs.
There is a need for amphibious marine vehicles to discharge troops and cargo at beachheads that are based on newer higher speed hull designs than currently available. As an example of currently available landing craft, consider that the Navy's LCU (Landing Craft Utility) has a top speed of about 12 knots and is beachable but not amphibious.
An alternative is the LCAC (Landing Craft Air Cushion) that is not only beachable but also amphibious. The LCAC is supported by a blower pressurized air cushion. The LCAC has a full 360 degree peripheral flexible skirt that attaches to the underside of its hull and restrains the air cushion between the hull and a water or land surface. The LCAC and its like are many times referred to as hovercraft. The LCAC has a number of inherent disadvantages, to wit: 1) It does not handle rough seas well, 2) It has an inherent rough "cobblestone" ride due to pressure perturbations in its air cushion where the pressure perturbations are mainly attributed to its full 360 degree flexible seals, 3) It is very weight sensitive, 4) It can only access beachheads that have gently sloped beaches, 4) Its full 360 degree flexible seals are expensive initially and to maintain, 6) Largely due to its need for power from three 4,500 HP gas turbines that supply propulsion and blower power, it is expensive initially with a current price of over $20 million, and 7) It is very noisy due to its necessary air propellers.
In spite of these shortcomings the LCAC has been procured in reasonably large numbers due to its very valuable amphibious and 45 knot speed capabilities. The amphibious capability allows driving up onto a beach and discharging troops and cargo on dry land above the surf line.
Textron Inc., New Orleans, Louisiana, was awarded on 27 August 2014 a $21,904,620 modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-12-C-2401) for the construction of Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) 101 of the ship-to-shore connector (SSC) program. Work will be performed in New Orleans, Louisiana (93.5 percent); Huntington Beach, California (2 percent); Chanhassen, Minnesota (2 percent); Coronado, California (1.5 percent); and Minneapolis, Minnesota (1 percent), and is expected to be completed by August 2017.
Textron Inc., New Orleans, Louisiana, was awarded on 15 March 2015 an $84,087,094 modification to previously awarded contract N00024-12-C-2401 to exercise an option for construction of Landing Craft, Air Cushions (LCACs) 102 and 103 and their associated technical manuals under the Ship to Shore Connector (SSC) program. Work will be performed in New Orleans, Louisiana (42 percent); Indianapolis, Indiana (20 percent); Camden, New Jersey (14 percent); Norway (7 percent); Great Britain (4 percent); Livonia, Michigan (4 percent); Huntington, California (2 percent); Eatontown, New Jersey (2 percent); San Diego, California (2 percent); Chanhassen, Minnesota (1 percent); Corona, California (1 percent); and Gold Beach, Oregon (1 percent), and is expected to be completed by September 2019.
Textron Inc., New Orleans, Louisiana, was awarded 30 march 2016 a $174,012,150 modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-12-C-2401) for the option exercise for construction of Landing Craft, Air Cushions (LCACs) 104 through 108 and their associated technical manuals under the Ship to Shore Connector (SSC) program. Work will be performed in New Orleans, Louisiana (27 percent); Indianapolis, Indiana (26 percent); Camden, New Jersey (15 percent); Norway (8 percent), Great Britain (5 percent); Livonia, Michigan (4 percent); Chanhassen, Minnesota (3 percent); Cincinnati, Ohio (3 percent); Metairie, Louisiana (3 percent); Huntington, California (2 percent); Eatontown, New Jersey (2 percent); Corona, California (1 percent); and Gold Beach, Oregon (1 percent), and is expected to be completed by October 2020.
Textron Marine and Land Systems, New Orleans, Louisiana, was awarded on April 13, 2018 a $7,884,328 modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-17-C-2480) for procurement of long lead time material for ship to shore connector class crafts 109 through 112. This modification is a cost-reimbursable not-to-exceed undefinitized contract action. Work will be performed in New Orleans, Louisiana (50 percent); Livonia, Michigan (21 percent); Metarie, Louisiana (13 percent); West Palm Beach, Florida (10 percent); Thomaston, Connecticut (4 percent); and Gulfport, Mississippi (2 percent). Work is expected to be completed by August 2019.
Textron Inc., New Orleans, Louisiana, was awarded on 27 September 2018 a $98,045,961 cost-reimbursable, not-to-exceed, undefinitized modification to previously-awarded letter contract N00024-17-C-2480 for the procurement of additional long-lead-time material (LLTM) for the Ship-to-Shore Connector (SSC) program, Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) 100-class craft 109 through 112, and for the procurement of LLTM and pre-fabrication activities for LCACs 113 through 118. Work will be performed in New Orleans, Louisiana (45 percent); Cincinnati, Ohio (12 percent); Harahan, Louisiana (10 percent); Huntington Beach, California (6 percent); Eatontown, New Jersey (6 percent); Chesapeake, Virginia (5 percent); Corona, California (4 percent); Metairie, Louisiana (4 percent); Gold Beach, Oregon (3 percent); East Hartford, Connecticut (3 percent); and Riverdale, Iowa (2 percent). Work is expected to be completed by December 2021. Fiscal 2017 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) funding in the amount of $13,189,830; and fiscal 2018 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) funding in the amount of $60,344,640 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity.
The Navy’s next generation landing craft, Ship to Shore Connector (SSC), Land Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) 101, concluded acceptance trials the week of 08 June 2020 after successfully completing a series of graded in-port and underway demonstrations for the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV). During the trials, the craft underwent integrated testing to demonstrate the capability of the platform and installed systems across all mission areas to effectively meet its requirements. These demonstrations are used to validate the quality of construction and compliance with Navy specifications and requirements prior to delivering the craft to the U.S. Navy. As INSURV is the approving authority for ships and craft undergoing Acceptance Trials, LCAC 101 can now begin preparing for delivery.
“The first operational production unit for the next-generation landing craft, LCAC 101, performed well having incorporated lessons learned from the recent Craft 100 at-sea trials,” said Tom Rivers, amphibious warfare program manager for Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. “LCAC 101 successfully demonstrated the ability to operate both on and off cushion at full load through the full range of speed, payload and maneuvering requirements.”
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