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Marines: From Procurement Tragedy to Triumph

May 11, 2010

Graphic of an amphibious T-craft prototype from Textron. Used by permission.

Secretary Gates gave an explosive speech before the Navy League calling on the Navy and Marines to face the reality of modern warfare, and stop building fewer giant warships which are no longer needed and might be at risk for future missions. Some have accused the Secretary of wanting to destroy our naval power, but the problems of procurement have been long standing, and aren’t going away. Typical of the services flawed thinking, that successive classes of larger and more technically complicated purchases will maintain our strength, comes from this article by Amy McCullough at the Marine Corps Times:

The Marine Corps’ basic goal is to be able to conduct major invasions with two Marine expeditionary brigades, each of which includes more than 14,000 Marines, their armored vehicles, aircraft, weapons and supplies. Of those, a little more than 10,000 Marines make up the assault echelon — trigger pullers and door kickers — that would ride ashore from Navy ships.
To accommodate an assault force of that size, the Corps wants at least 15 amphibious ships, preferably 17, to account for times when some of the Navy’s gators would be in overhaul. So two MEBs would require at least 34 ships, and the Corps wants four more ships to account for the 10 percent to 15 percent of the gator fleet in the shipyard at any one time: hence the official Marine requirement for a fleet of 38 amphibious ships.

And their future warship plans reflect these less than grandiose designs:

The specs for LHA 8 reflect compromises: It could accommodate two LCACs instead of three, its hangar bay would handle only one MV-22 Osprey instead of two, and it would carry fewer Marines overall than either of its parents, America and Makin Island. Those ships are designed to fit nearly 1,700 troops. The Corps’ version of LHA 8 would handle 1,400.

Don’t you know, even though LHA-8 will be less capable than the previous generation like the Makin Island, it will be drastically more expensive, if Navy procurement history is any judge? If the Big Ship procurement wasn’t in such disarray, it gets worse with the service’s new “armored amphibian”, which sounded like a good idea when it was born in the 1990’s. Here’s Greg Grant at DoD Buzz with the sorrowful tale of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles:

There is little question that the EFV is a technological marvel. It is a massive armored vehicle weighing 40 tons that can reach water speeds in excess of 25 knots and 45 mph on land, all while carrying 17 Marines, oh and it has a 30mm auto-cannon as well…The EFV was designed to meet the requirements of a very different era, when an armored amphibian was needed to land the assault echelons of a Marine division and hold that beachhead and beat back the Soviet motorized counterattack. It’s difficult to envision the scenario where that same niche capability is needed.

If the Marine’s amphibious ships get pushed too far out to shore, then the EFV wouldn’t even launch, as it would run out of gas soon after landing on the beach.

Not an unlikely scenario, given the shrinking number of ships to carry the jet-ski tank, and the rising numbers of missiles at sea against it. But lets say the EFV does make it to shore. What then?

Yet, the EFV’s vulnerability once on land, not water, may prove its undoing. The vehicle’s flat bottom (necessary to reach high cross water speeds), low ground clearance (16 inches), and very flat sides, are precisely the design features armored vehicle builders have sought to avoid, says CSBA’s Wood. In recent years, the land forces, including the Marines, have spent billions of dollars buying up MRAP vehicles with hull’s designed specifically to withstand IED blasts.

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T-craft from port to beach, cutting out the "middleman". Textron graphic used by permission.

In the depths of despair over the military procurement plans ever catching up with modern advances in warfare, we get news of a fascinating new experimental vessel from Textron that might just drag the Corps kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. Here’s Bill Sweetman at Ares blog:

The problem is to get pre-positioned equipment off roll-on, roll-off ships at sea and on to the shore, because sea basing involved much larger forces than Marine “amphibs” and their Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) vehicles can support.

At the delivery end, a craft to solve this problem has to get up on the beach like an LCAC. But the ro-ro ships are not combatants and need to stand well offshore (about 250 nm) for safety, so what is needed is not just a very big LCAC but one with greater range, speed and seakeeping ability. Since the resulting craft is too big to be carried on another ship, too, it has to ferry itself from a main base to the seabase.

The answer is somewhat surprising and slightly familiar:

Enter the T-Craft. Textron’s version is 253 feet long and carries a 250-350-ton payload – an M1 tank company or an entire Patriot battery. In long-range mode, as a waterjet-powered catamaran, it can ferry itself empty over 2500 miles of open ocean. Backing up to the stern of the ro-ro, it activates its air-cushion fans and uses a sophisticated three-dimensional positioning system to maintain station on the ship, which deploys a stern ramp so that vehicles can load.

Please note the part, “a very big LCAC but one with greater range, speed and seakeeping ability”, which sounds much like New Wars proposal of such a craft similar to the JHSV to send the Marines from port directly to the beach. It is a vast improvement over the current planes to send giant ships into harm’s way and a handful of tiny EFVs against an enemy shoreline. The latter, under threat of the budget knife and rightly so is an incredibly expensive solution, which may be at risk from IED’s if it does reach the shore after traveling 25 miles or more.

On the run-in to the beach, T-Craft would extend its skirts, power up its four swiveling propulsion fans, turn the air-cushion on to full power and beach as a true hovercraft. Primary power would come from two GE LM2500 marine turbines, with GE38-class engines (from the CH-53K helicopter) running the lift and propulsor fans.

Directly from port to the beach, so I’m thinking it doesn’t have to be transoceanic. Just a range of a thousand miles or two from a staging area, the sea base. This is exactly the right way to go, and proves our contention that the HSV catamarans could be an amphibious alternative, affordable, survivable, and more relevant for the times. Since these are similar to vessels already in service, already being utilized by the Corps, it isn’t so much new as off-the-shelf. This could work.

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39 Comments leave one →
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  2. May 13, 2010 1:40 pm

    I know EFV aren’t lighters. I am interested in all manner of ship-to-shore transport platforms from helicopters to motorised causeways. I just went off on one of my tangential rambles it what I do.
    I would advocate rubber ducks if I thought it was the way.

    I will say that AAV are transporters not fighting vehicles. (Land troops return for cargo.)

    All good clean fun! :)

  3. leesea permalink
    May 13, 2010 12:15 pm

    x frist off I think the EFV should be terminated, but the Marines would have a heart attack – LOL
    Secondly EFV are NOT lighters nor are the landing craft, they are intended to be armored personnel carriers and used 80% of the time on land. So I have chosen to ignore that type craft because they are inrelevant to the logistics of amphibious operations (boy that should rign some bells!). I am NOT saying the Marines do not need an APC just that the EFV is not the right vehicle of choice for many reasons.

    Remember that EFVs mainly lift troops and LCACs mainly lift vehicles not other forms of cargo (pls accept my generalizations).

    I have been trying to stay with just the subject of this thread – how T-Craft, LCAC, and other landing craft and/or lighterage fits into the marine operations beyond the assualt phase. (my blinders on~)

    Its the sustainment phase which will keep troops ashore supplied with what they need to go further. The tactical equipment and materials to prosecute beyond the beachead will come ashore on modern landing craft (not regurgetated LCACs) IMHO.

  4. May 13, 2010 5:39 am

    leesea said “sorry the first anon was me!” and other stuff.

    I think I should lay out my store a bit in that I am interested in all forms of landing craft from amtraks to landing crafts to LCACs to the weird and wonderful. I think what I am trying to get at with my posts is that we need to balance cost with appropriateness. I don’t think there is a golden solution, but I do tend to think simpler is better even though I think hovercraft etc. are super, super things.

    I agree that mexafloat is a super system and I am glad that the RFA continued with the system. IRL though I think it looks very fragile and an engine that small shouldn’t have to do that much work!

    My current thinking is leaning toward faster AAVs especially if as Mike B and others think that wars amongst the people are the future. The “people” don’t have access to air cover!!!! But the EFV is overpriced. Compare it with the BMP-3. Now the former maybe a lot more heavily engineered but you could buy 25 BMP3 for one EFV. A BMP 3 costs about 12million Rubles, EFV costs $25million, that is helicopter money. Such vehicles would really open up the sea flank for COIN ops. And perhaps even impact on the interference from IEDs.

  5. leesea permalink
    May 12, 2010 8:32 pm

    sorry the first anon was me! hit the send button in rush to get out the door.
    I think its reasonable to conduct offload operations in SS2 to SS3. I have tested Ro/Ro to RRDF in those conditions. Lo/Lo ops probably top out at SS2. Amphibs are significantly afffected by the direction as well as height of the seas viz their stern well aperature.

    I commend the RFA for including rails on the Bays to side load Mexiflotes. As you know the USN have given up on sideloading altoghether! Not only has the USN relegated the modern pontoon lighters to MPS, but they have so encumbered amphib ship designs as to make skin to skin cargo ops difficult to impossible. And of course a significant lack of cargo gear (plan B).

    It would be relatively easy for the RN to charter a semi-submersible ship to lift lighterage of whatever type. (The USN is forbidden from long term chartering foreign built ships.) The PASCATs could fly onboard a partially submerged deck. LCM Mk10s could be floated off in a conventional manner.

  6. May 12, 2010 6:28 pm

    Anon’ said “the photos which Mike so kindly inserted in my prior reply is that of the USNS Martin’s 485 ton! stern ramp landing on an RRDF made up of older NL pontoons. The ramp stayed in place in up to SS3 conditions overnight with as many as 6 landing craft moored to it.”

    I have plenty of pictures of ships (both navy and merchant) offloading onto lighters, landing craft, etc. We all know SS3 isn’t even moderate, and most operations would be halted at SS4. Which condition do you think is more common? Unloading over ramp happens because there is an option because the specialist shipping isn’t available. If it were a realistic all-year all-coast option believe me the MoD(N) wouldn’t have built the Bays with docks. Remember the previous class to the Bays the Sir’s were built to beach to unload in times where insurance costs weren’t as high. It is a good pic though and I do bow to your superior knowledge.

  7. May 12, 2010 6:13 pm

    Mike B said “Ah…falttery!”

    This thread as always here is excellent food thought. My crime is typing as I think………

    B.Smitty said “The B in B.Smitty actually doesn’t stand for Bill. :) ”

    Sorry Smitty flicking up and down the other comments I misread who posted what. Sorry. Beverley is a really pretty name……. :) ;)

  8. Anonymous permalink
    May 12, 2010 3:39 pm

    the most recent posts by Bill, Bsmitty and TD go to my argument, which is: ONLY the assault wave needs full amphbiosity – sic! i.e. LCACs and their replacement. The SSC nee LCAC replacment program may want to spend $4 bill but that is problematical. A newer designed hovercraft with conventional marine construction would fit the bill I think?

    And yes the USN needs newer and somewaht faster landing craft in the LCU/LCM model. Personally I think PASCAT or L-Cat would do nicely.

    The above is all for amphibious assault. The rest is for sustainment. So why not just have all those conventional landing craft marry up to an RRDF?

    @X the photos which Mike so kindly inserted in my prior reply is that of the USNS Martin’s 485 ton! stern ramp landing on an RRDF made up of older NL pontoons. The ramp stayed in place in up to SS3 conditions overnight with as many as 6 landing craft moored to it. No fixed connections. Does the USN really need more than that? The INLS has more seastate capability. The amphib ramps can’t do/hold what some sealift ship ramps can. The LMSR and MPF-E ramps are what I am speaking of. Does the Navy really need more that that? x2

  9. May 12, 2010 2:21 pm

    I am not saying it is one or the other, just that we neglect the need for logistics and concentrate on the sexy assault phase at our peril. All the money goes into the opposed landing concept and very little on the follow up. All I am proposing is a realignment.

  10. B.Smitty permalink
    May 12, 2010 1:57 pm

    Think Defence,

    IMHO, you need both an assault and follow-on logistics capability. If Um Qasr had been more heavily defended, just having a logistics capability would’ve made the operation a non-starter.

    x said, “Bill said “Is that really true? This means you’ll force all cargo to be amphibious, rather than just the connector. Replacing thousands of trucks, HMMWVs, MRAPs and other vehicles with amphibious versions sounds a lot more expensive to me.”

    Sorry Bill I meant the assault wave not supporting vehicles.

    The B in B.Smitty actually doesn’t stand for Bill. :)

    Understood. I recall reading about carrying AAVs on LCACs or LCUS up to a few miles from the beach, and letting them swim the rest of the way, as an alternative to the EFV. A modified JHSV could perform a similar role, though perhaps not getting as close to shore.

  11. MatR permalink
    May 12, 2010 1:49 pm

    Without an amphibious assault in operation Overlord, the Allies wouldn’t have gained the access needed to put the Mulberries’ sections together.

    I think this thread is getting a bit overwrought… (if I read it right) the basic message of Mike’s post seems to be that new landing craft could set off outside artillery and missile range, and land heavier armour and more types of equipment and vehicles than the EFV. At least on a factual basis, that’s indisputable – the technology is available and relatively cheap, and working now.

    Sometimes I feel like we put up a lot of replies along the lines of ‘But these new-fangled tanks couldn’t possibly work! You can’t run them on the same hay as we feed the horses! And anyway, they’ll never be able to travel above 30 miles an hour, because the insane speed would liquify the passengers…’ ;o)

  12. May 12, 2010 1:32 pm

    maybe we need t think beyond the traditional concepts of initial assault and follow up via a port secured by the landing force

    It is so easy to deny a port now, look at Um Qasr, took ages to clear before any ships could operate and yet the actual amphibious element was actually quite small and not terribly opposed.

    Logistics is and perhaps always was the key, for this you need a portable harbour not huge opposed landing capability

  13. Mike Burleson permalink*
    May 12, 2010 1:31 pm

    X-wrote “young Mike B”

    Ah…falttery!

    But who says new tech must be gold plate? The JHSV is about 1/10 the cost of a major amphibian. Then you have Sea Fighter, Stiletto, etc.

    Show me where the T-craft costs $1 billion, and I’ll hush. Lower costs plus numbers will ensure something survives the next blowup at sea. Plus the lower cost is more relevant to the type of wars we fight. Otherwise we bankrupt ourselves fighting wars of attrition with Blitzkrieg weapons.

    But its the strategy of going from port to the beach that interests me. The idea of a handful of Gators wallowing offshore in range of missile boats, submarines, and ASBMs is frightening. You get in and get the heck out!

  14. May 12, 2010 1:21 pm

    One more point young Mike B.

    How come when it comes too fighting ships it has to be cheap and cheerful? Yet when it comes to amphibians they have to come off the set of Star Wars? Where is the cheaper means more mantra?

    Also I forgot the graphic showing the T-craft backing onto to the amphibious rear ramp; really? This would only happen in really benign weather. Brown covers this in from “Vanguard to Trident”.

  15. May 12, 2010 1:14 pm

    Bill said “Is that really true? This means you’ll force all cargo to be amphibious, rather than just the connector. Replacing thousands of trucks, HMMWVs, MRAPs and other vehicles with amphibious versions sounds a lot more expensive to me.”

    Sorry Bill I meant the assault wave not supporting vehicles. Once the beachhead is secure those vehicles can be brought ashore by more conventional means. Though this does lead onto the question of how much do you want to bring ashore and how much you want to keep afloat. The graphic shows tanks being landed in penny-packets. I know visual artist are allowed a bit of licence and need to a bit of drama, but vehicles like those plus say SP, heavy bridging equipment would only be deployed once the campaign was well under way when ships can come much closer to the shore or indeed one a port have been secured. I think realistically speaking the current LCACs are about as big as ACVs should get. Lastly for those of us this side of the pond without the budget I do think investing in amphibious vehicles is a better route than sinking money into helicopters. A LCU landing Vikings near to the shore and them swimming in, meaning the LCU is able to turn quicker and begin its journey back to the ship is better than more complicate platforms.

  16. leesea permalink
    May 12, 2010 12:40 pm

    I think we all agree that “it” is all about the connectors? Dismissing the trans-oceanic capabilty for the moment, the problem becomes how do shorter range “craft” get to the location needed? I submit the ALL of the vessels suggested in this thread can be sealifted by a Flo/Flo. And I mean all!

    Lets review the candidates:

    JHSV will be part of the enhanced MPS rons. Several could fly on to a Flo/Flo for loading. Which is in fact what the USN wants to do with LCACs and the MLP. My criticism is the MLP is too specific to those old hovercraft.

    BTW the HSV WestPac Express could beach at certain locations. My discussion with JHSV engineer is that do to the joint nature of the JSHV, beaching was dropped out of the design.

    INLS pontoons today are ONLY carried on MPS (why I don’t know? I assume the USN/USMC don’t want such simple lighters on their exquisite ships?). Regardless pontoon secrtions of all descriptions (Mexiflote, NL, INLS, LMCS) could be carried on Flo/Flos and discharged when/where needed.

    PASCAT and L-Cats can presumably fit into USN amphib wet well docks? The problem then becomes two fold: How many “spots” are availbable in those expensive garages? And how does one change their cargo loads once inside? Answer put some of the lighters on Flo/Flos to be loaded either before reaching AOA (for forcible entry ops), OR to be used for sustainment once the first assault wave is kicked out the stern of amphibs and ashore.

    The later concept then means that both amphibs and sealift ships will be used for “amphibious lift” per Capt Hughes’ NNFM and one can set up an offshore discarge/distribution system with many “connectors” in an efficient manner.

    @TD the problem with a Mulberry operation (shore to shore movement) and INLS Causeway Piers (ship to shore) is how does one get ALL its parts to a foreign location. Most of Mulberry’s parts just floated across the Channel. Most of the lighterage needed to move “Tonnage” ashore for the USN does NOT have enough spots on amphibs or sealift ships. The Seabee ships are the only current US assets for large waterborne “objects”. And there are only three in the RRF.

    More thoughts later today…..

  17. Bill permalink
    May 12, 2010 12:08 pm

    “That last 5% is the huge difference maker. Otherwise just build JHSVs.”

    JHSV’s are not beachable; certainly not for unloading. The T-craft is, with draft at the bow only a couple feet…meaning that an awfull lot of ‘beaches’ would be directly accesible to T-craft without it ever reverting to fullly amphibious mode of operation. The limiting factor would be the shoal water beach gradient; it would have to be sufficiently steep to push the bow hard on the beach without beaching the rest of the hull. A quite familiar scenario for most conventional landing craft and alos the new British SES landing craft prototype.

  18. B.Smitty permalink
    May 12, 2010 11:29 am

    x said, “A simpler platform able to close the shore where the “cargo” swims itself ashore is a much better.

    Is that really true? This means you’ll force all cargo to be amphibious, rather than just the connector. Replacing thousands of trucks, HMMWVs, MRAPs and other vehicles with amphibious versions sounds a lot more expensive to me.

    That last 5% is the huge difference maker. Otherwise just build JHSVs.

  19. May 12, 2010 10:36 am

    Bill said “Not. The prelim CONOPS has them spending a good 95% of their lifetimes operating below 30 knots in conventional SES mode..with none of the air-screws, ACV skirts or any of the ‘transformation stuff’ operating. It is as a conventional SES that the concepts exceed a 2500 nm range at speeds in mid 20-knot range.”

    I hear what you are saying, it is the 5% I was thinking about. And I can’t see procurement of a system who’s advantages are due to complicated high-cost systems used only 5% of the time. (Don’t you dare mention afterburners……….! ;)

    A simpler platform able to close the shore where the “cargo” swims itself ashore is a much better.

  20. Bill permalink
    May 12, 2010 8:21 am

    “With my apologises to Bill, I think this is a stupid idea! I”

    Huh?? Apologies? First of all, as is the case with most HPMV ideas that creep in to consideration for naval application, this T-Craft ‘thing’ certainly was not mine either. My entire career has been based on trying to make the ideas of others – stupid or not – enter the water as working hardware. Witness the Skjold, for example. ;-)

    So, T-craft is simply yet another example of a HPMV that, if the program proceeds in our favor, I will endeavor to make work as advertised. That I often succeed at that..is literally my entire CV. I leave the arguing over how good or bad an idea it is to those who know more about naval operations than I ever will. ;-)

  21. B.Smitty permalink
    May 12, 2010 6:58 am

    (HT to leesea for that one)

  22. B.Smitty permalink
    May 12, 2010 6:58 am

    Think Defense,

    How about this? Lightweight Modular Causeway System: Logistics Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration

    Unlike other systems, the LMCS uses no in-water connections. And in contrast to the current causeway systems, which can take over a day and a company of Soldier or Sailors to assemble, LMCS can be deployed by seven trained personnel and be operational in approximately 3 hours. An equal number of personnel can recover the system in approximately the same time.

  23. May 12, 2010 6:02 am

    You might be interested in this

    http://www.heavyliftpfi.com/Content/newsitem.aspx?id=1531

  24. May 12, 2010 5:32 am

    Can I ask what is so different to D Day

    http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2009/06/d-day-after/

    Mulberry A and B were designed to offload between 5 and 7 thousand tonnes per day of vehicles, personnel and all sorts of break bulk, non containerised cargo.

    How that might be fatuous comment because obviously a lot has changed but what I am getting at is the fundamental problems haven’t changed one bit.

    After the initial assault that secures a staging area then messing about with direct ship to shore craft would seem to be very inefficient. Would not a better solution to concentrate on improving the speed of deployment of the barges, container handling in a higher sea state and most of all, a quick to erect docking pier that could offload direct from the larger RORO and container ships.

    Piers for use on beaches

    i.e. Mulberry

  25. Anonymous permalink
    May 12, 2010 2:19 am

    From Leesea:

    With my apologises to Bill, I think this is a stupid idea! I sent the following up by email.

    Ok I buy the below statement as the kernel of the problem:
    “The problem is to get pre-positioned equipment off roll-on, roll-off ships at sea and on to the shore, because sea basing involved much larger forces than Marine “amphibs” and their Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) vehicles can support.”

    Except of course the statement ONLY addresses Ro/Ro cargo, the REAL tonnage is in the containers and breakbulk cargo – how does that get offloaded onto the T-craft and then discharged ashore?

    Ever seen a RTCH with a loaded TEU? yes I have and watched it depress a ship’s main deck plates! And yes I have seen container land wrong on an LCAV-15 and punch a hole in its deck. Has anyone done the load calculations of how much that 300 to 400 ton ship’s stern ramp is going to depress the T-Craft work deck?

    And oh BTW, there is already a system for tactical equipment aka vehicles to be transferred on to ALL forms of existing landing craft and lighters i.e the INLS RRDF.

    Here is where the above solution goes astray:

    “….so what is needed is not just a very big LCAC but one with greater range, speed and seakeeping ability. Since the resulting craft is too big to be carried on another ship, too, it has to ferry itself from a main base to the seabase….” HOGWASH that is an excuse to build another exquisite vessel instead of a many simple landing craft. And the Marines will want bigger and better amphibs just lift the T-Craft -more exquiste ships!

    Also did the author perhaps mean that the super-sized T-craft won’t fit on an amphibs? Well not quite a problem Charlie! You see a clear deck Flo/Flo could carry more smaller hovercraft thereby eliminating the need for trans-oceanic lighters – which is basically an oxymoron!

    Focus on the real problem i.e. sealift ship to shore movement of heavy cargo from 250 miles off to the high water mark.

    The T-Craft is too large, too complex, too expensive, will be too few (if ever built)!

    For we have many ships to discharge and miles to go before they are all discharged by a few T-craft.

    P.S. Bills solution is the right way to go which of course the USN won’t do. Hell they won’t even consider PASCAT which will probably be in production before the Navy gets aroudn to spending $4 Billion on 80 SSC starting in FY11.
    Downsize the T-Craft and delete its fully amphibious capability. Woah nellie will the Marines have a fit over that idea! Ask yourelves what is the farthest up the beach you have EVER seen an LCAC? And how about this idea: Other than the assault wave, why does a landing craft have to be fully amphbious?

  26. DesScorp permalink
    May 11, 2010 10:06 pm

    I was thinking just today that the solution to the EFV problem was to kill it and just buy more LCAC’s. And now we have the Super LCAC. Now here’s the problem: the original LCAC’s were under 50 million apiece. Who wants to be that these new monster cost at least $350 million apiece, and perhaps up to $500, thus muting the whole affordability argument. Anyone want to take that bet?

    Better to just build plain-ole’ LCAC’s at a fixed price and tell the Marines “Look, this is what you get; deal with it”.

  27. WTH permalink
    May 11, 2010 4:31 pm

    EFV IED protection is just as good as MRAP.

    http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/03/marine_efv_030110w/

  28. Bill permalink
    May 11, 2010 2:48 pm

    “For these to work you would need an amphib the size of a Nimitz as their “mothership.” These would drink fuel and each have maintenance schedule comparable to a whole squadron of CH53s.

    Not. The prelim CONOPS has them spending a good 95% of their lifetimes operating below 30 knots in conventional SES mode..with none of the air-screws, ACV skirts or any of the ‘transformation stuff’ operating. It is as a conventional SES that the concepts exceed a 2500 nm range at speeds in mid 20-knot range.

    It’s also a ‘modular’ concept as currently designed; meaning you could leave out/off all the ‘extra stuff’ that is required to be fully amphibious, gain 100-150-tons additional payload capacity, and have a beachable lighter instead..almost like an oversized version of the Brit MOD PASCAT landing craft demonstrator. And still capable of being landed on its own keels on a flo-flo…

  29. Hudson permalink
    May 11, 2010 1:52 pm

    Oh, and EFV can also swim upriver and negotiate marshes.

  30. Hudson permalink
    May 11, 2010 1:44 pm

    I wouldn’t dismiss EFV so quickly unless Gates defunds it. Unlike MRAP, it can fight its way ashore in off-road areas (less chance of hitting IEDs), carry fewer troops and more supplies, evacuate wounded, take a hit with its heavy composite armor and hit back against a variety of targets, and act as a purely waterborne swarm buster, in a pinch. It’s the best truely littoral (meaning very close to shore) small surface weapon the Marines are likely to have in the near term.

  31. May 11, 2010 1:28 pm

    Um. I like hovercraft. When I am in Pompey for Navy Days I am planning a quick trip across the Solent on one. Lovely things. But these are landing craft, in theatre transport at best. For these to work you would need an amphib the size of a Nimitz as their “mothership.” These would drink fuel and each have maintenance schedule comparable to a whole squadron of CH53s.

    I don’t think you grasp what amphibious warfare is about. Nor the amount of equipment, stores, and consumables that even a light infantry formation has to carry in order to be available for operations. Amphibious warfare today is about posture and manoeuvre not storming up beaches under fire. It is about endurance.

    The Greeks get away with using ACV because of the short distances they have to travel around their archipelago (where fuel, a landing site, and air cover are always close at hand.)

    I think the EFV would be great for raids on “Pirate Coves.”

    I will wait for Scot; he is far more eloquent and lot more motivated.

  32. MatR permalink
    May 11, 2010 1:06 pm

    And finally… the SR.N4 that could carry 60 cars and 400 passengers – not bad for 1960s technology. We could do much better today.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountbatten_class_hovercraft

  33. MatR permalink
    May 11, 2010 1:00 pm

    Pics of a massive Russian hovercraft, disembarking BMPs (also some video):

    http://englishrussia.com/index.php/2008/05/09/russian-worlds-largest-military-hovercraft/

  34. MatR permalink
    May 11, 2010 12:53 pm

    The basic technology already exists and has been bought by the UK MOD:

    http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?168153-New-Landing-Craft-for-the-Royal-Marine-Commandos

  35. jkt permalink
    May 11, 2010 12:29 pm

    Off-the-shelf tech typically can be photographed … not rendered in CG.

    Hey, why don’t we just buy some of those cool heli-planes from Avatar? It’s off the shelf! James Cameron has done all the hard work of designing them and building the CG models. And we know they work … I saw them flying!

  36. Anonymous permalink
    May 11, 2010 12:24 pm

    Oh boy… another 4k SES program… but WAY WAY WAY more complex. Play with me the game where you have to identify prescribed items in a picture. For my game, count the number of UNPROVEN and UNTRIED technology elements in the pictures. This is exactly the type of program that Gates is preaching against, and even worse than the type of program that led to massive overruns with the LCS varients. God help us.

  37. Anonymous permalink
    May 11, 2010 12:21 pm

    Oh boy… another 4k SES program but WAY

  38. B.Smitty permalink
    May 11, 2010 12:12 pm

    Existing HSVs can’t go “over the beach” like T-craft or existing LCACs. This is not an “off the shelf” capability.

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