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Navy League of the United States


LCU Replacement Analysis to Begin

By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor


The Navy’s plan to recapitalize its fleet of utility landing craft (LCUs) has begun with the initial ground work for a formal Analysis of Alternatives (AOA).


Capt. Chris Mercer, program manager for amphibious warfare at the Naval Sea Systems Command,  told an audience April 10 at the Navy League’s 2013 Sea-Air-Space Exposition in National Harbor, Md., that the Navy has issued an Initial Capabilities Document and guidance for the AOA for the replacement, named Surface Connector X , SC(X).


The SC(X) will replace the Navy’s 32 LCUs that are used to transport vehicles such as tanks and other armored vehicles from the well decks of amphibious warfare ships to shore.


Mercer said the average age of the LCUs is 43 years.


Mercer also said the Navy has delivered 42 of 72 planned service-life extensions (SLEPs )of the Landing Craft Air Cushions (LCACs). Currently the Navy operates 81 operational LCACS and two development LCACs of 91 built.


The SLEP of the LCACs is designed to sustain the capability of the connector craft until its replacement, the LCAC 100 class assumes its role. The LCAC 100, formerly named the Ship-to-Shore Connector, is in the detailed design process and will be built by Textron Marine & Land Systems, the builder of the older LCAC. The first LCAC 100 is scheduled for delivery in 2017.


The LCAC 100, powered by a derivative of the same engine used by the V-22 Osprey aircraft, will be constructed of composite materials and will include fewer and simpler gear boxes, simplified shafts and generators and a new skirt design. It will be operated by a crew of two, rather than five on the older LCAC. The new LCAC will be able to carry 74 short tons of cargo, compared with 60 short tons for the older craft.




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