Friday, July 05, 2013

A 21st Century Landing Craft.

NOTE:  I've recently mentioned the need to actually design forces capable of fighting in the Pacific.  I contend that those types of forces will be totally different from what we have today.  From the short legged F-22 to the underarmed, undermanned and under equipped LCS, we will need to rethink our strategy/procurement.  For the Marines, at the top of the list should be a high speed replacement for the LCU-1600 class.  If the Marine Expeditionary Brigade is the new "Unit of Action" and if Army's Heavy Brigade Combat Teams are going to flow into theater then we need a replacement asap.  See the article below for one option.  Of particular interest is that the author has seen fit to arms his landing craft.  I find such thinking refreshing.  

35 comments:

  1. Every so often something comes from left field that makes you just say, "Dude. DUDE! That's awesome."

    Wow.

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    1. The silly thing is some will have at this idea because of this "folding", but I bet they are perfectly happy with MV-22. If you look beyond normal ships there are lots of weird and wonderful maritime craft in the world that don't look like ships as many know them built to meet very specific needs.

      This and craft like the French LCAT point to the future; as does our PASCAT. Folding or moving structures; decks, keels, flaps, bows, and perhaps even bridges. Surface effect for good speed using modest power medium speed diesels as prime movers . I think we know the answers somebody has just got to connect the dots.

      Super stuff.

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    2. Looks awesome, but is 55 tons enough payload? That keeps the MBT and recovery vehicles off them. Not sure how else this would impact logistical flow.

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    3. the author is saying that these boats would have a 200 ton payload. more than double both the LCAC and LCU-1600 class.

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  2. As an LCU replacement it seems great. The only thing I wanted to comment on was the notion of doing amphibious operations at distances of 100nm or more. While there might be a specific scenario where this makes some sense overall it's an extremely dangerous concept of operations.

    Firstly if the battle space is not properly prepared for warships then I'd suggest all those mines, anti ship missiles, artillery, etc., should be dealt with prior to sending in AAV's, landing craft, and boats. Instead of moving the ships farther and farther from shore we should be concentrating on making the battle space safe for them to operate as close to shore as possible. This reduces time spent at sea getting to shore, increases the amount of time aircraft operate in support of Marines ashore, and vastly decreases the need for landing craft to operate at high speeds.

    What the USN needs are more mine warfare craft and cost effective survivable ships that can operate near shore for naval gunfire support. In addition such ships would be tasked with supporting landing craft, mine hunters, and helicopters. Such ships should essentially be a modern monitor. Instead what the USN did was put the 155mm guns on a ship probably too expensive to be utilized in this role. Additionally the Navy decided cost effective full time mine warfare craft could be replaced by expensive frigates doing the mission part time.

    If the battle space isn't prepared for the ships to survive than I respectfully suggest it's not where we want to land our nations Marines either. Instead of coming up with new theories that put our supporting ships further away from the Marines they were commissioned to support we should construct a Navy that is fully capable of preparing the battle space to ensure our amphibious ships can safely operate close to shore to best support our Marines.

    New and improved landing craft are necessary and important. We should not, however, design them to support operational concepts that are neither practical nor affordable. This is exactly what produced EFV.

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    1. About the mine warfare craft...

      None of the current US inventory of minesweepers can operate in a hostile enviroment. They are unarmored and extremely lightly armed. You can take out a top of the line US mine sweeper with a zodiac and a 50 cal. The whole concept of operations with current mine sweepers do not work in a hostile surveilled environment.

      The reality is that any dedicated next gen mine sweeper is going to operate exactly as the LCS anti-mine module operates. It is going to need speed to get away from danger, and get in quick before it is detected. Its mine hunting is going to be done primary through remote vehicles. Go in, drop off vehicle, get out, go in, pick up vehicle, get out, parse data, get in, drop off vehicle to kill mines, get out, etc.

      As far as monitor like ships, those don't work against a peer/near peer unless they've already had their coastal defenses largely rendered inop. You simply cannot design a small heavily armored ship that has enough firepower to survive modern weapons when the reaction time from fire to hit is under 20s. Monitor type ships worked against bad unguided artillery and primitive unguided missles. Modern small ASMs will eat a monitor style ship for breakfast.

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    2. Yep. Which is why the LCS actually does make sense, and is the right tool for the job to make life for the bigger ships easier in the littorals.

      (runs away before the anti-LCS mob catches me!)

      This thing on the other hand makes no sense at all. If you've got a large amphibious transport that close to the shore to begin with, you better have taken down enemy defenses before hand, rather than hope to dash to the beach without getting hit. This ain't D-Day

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    3. do you know what the Navy's new fancy dandy anti-mine package of the future is? its mounted on a MH-60 and it can be deployed from any ship. quite honestly the future mine ship of the future is probably gonna be a type of LHD filled with helos for the anti-mine mission. which leaves the LCS to do what?

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    4. It will leave it to deploy the RMS. Helicopters have short duration, are vulnerable to detection and enemy action (which means you can't deploy them close to enemy shores, without protection) etc. Deploying robotic vehicles like the RMS, however, is how you are going to render the littorals safe for larger assets. LCS is the best mine-sweeping asset the Navy (or any Navy) has developed because it can do what no other minesweeper can; it can serve as a survivable mothership for anti-mine assets where no minesweeper (waterborne or airborne) can survive. Score one for the LCS ;)

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    5. The MH-60's contribution to the MIW module has been scaled back. It doesn't have the power to tow the mine hunting sonar.

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    6. towed sonar was never part of the mix for the next gen aerial anti-mine effort. it was always planned that a smaller helicopter than the CH-53 would be called on to carry it and studies proved that the MH-60 couldn't get a tow right and have enough power for safety.

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    7. So it can't handle AQS-20 or OASIS. ALMDS Is not performing up to reqs. RAMICS was canned. What's left? AMNS?

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  3. The notion that mine warfare craft should be capable of self protection is interesting but has very little to do with the history of mine warfare. Any fishing trawler, or LCS, can operate a mine warfare module. As an adjunct to traditional mine hunters this idea might make sense, unlike LCS. Mine warfare is a slow deliberate process and using a high speed vessel for the task is frankly simply ridiculous.

    A modern monitor would be double hulled survivable ship designed for naval gunfire support and perhaps armed with the 2 155mm from DDG- 1000 and very little else. Such a ship would have a top speed of around 20knots. Instead the USN gave us a multi billion dollar CG that they chose to call a DDG that is simply too expensive to be risked near shore supporting troops ashore.

    We've had helicopter mounted mine sweeping gear for over 40 years. After they go in one still needs to carefully go after the area with sonar specifically designed to detect bottom mines and when detected these need to be individually dealt with. We've used various ships in the past to carry the MH-53E's, including LPH-12 re-designated as MCS-12, and maybe the Navy in it's wisdom will return a ship full time for the mission. Till then, however, we'll make do with forward deploying our mine hunters and MH-53E's to Bahrain and Japan.

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    1. The LCS isn't designed to sweep the mines itself. Its designed to operate multiple such modules in hostile areas; i.e. the RMS does the sweeping while the LCS can dash in and out and speeds which make it difficult to be engaged by enemy boats or subs. A fishing trawler would have a hard time getting into the area.

      Yes mine-sweeping is a tedious task. However, there is mine-sweeping in areas where enemy threat is not present, or friendly defense is present, and then there's mine-sweeping designed to go into enemy littoral waters to prepare the way for bigger forces. What conceivable asset can clear mine obstacles on a hostile beach, prior to an assault?

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    2. First the history of mine warfare only informs to slight degrees on the reality of modern mine warfare with peer and near peer forces. The current mine sweeping vessels of the US and other forces are design to only operate in entirely permissive environments. As I said, a zodiac with a 50 cal can take them out.

      And for the mine warfare module being designed for the LCS and designed independently before the LCS, a trawler cannot act as a mothership for them. It lacks the hold space for storage, equipment, computers, and lacks the capture capability required.

      The point of using a high speed vessel is to get the RMS into position and get out as fast as possible.

      As far as a monitor double hulled survivable ship, it would be eaten alive by ASMs if the enemy still had banks of them and if they don't, then an MLP fitted with a couple long range guns work just as well. A new heavily armored double hull ship design will be impressively expensive. If its only use is NGFS then it would be infeasibly expensive. The only cost for a MLP outfitted with AGS is the cost of the AGS. And realistically, you could fit upwards of 10 AGS on an MLP.

      For all the criticism that the LCS gets, as a mine sweeper platform, at least it can fight off a couple of zodiacs with 50 cals. The other mine hunters cannot even do that and are only useful for defense against clandestine mines deployed in friendly waters. The RMS already detects and can destory bottom mines.

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    3. ATS,

      Mine sweeping does in fact sea and air control, so does an amphibious landing (ships, assault craft, and even helicopters make nice coffins). No one in their right mind would expect combat engineers to breach a minefield without heave support. You cannot even establish a fuel dump, ammunition dump, or FARP necessary for existence of your force without establishing dominance over the area.

      Once you accept this reality, specialized ships and small craft like MCM vessels become a lot more palatable.

      Turning MCM vessels into high speed missile boats, or gun boats is part of the same reasoning that has driven the cost of destroyers to over $2.3 billion dollars.

      will the MCM vessels need escorts? Absolutely, but the cost of a specialized MCM is ~$50M, a Fast Attack Craft or corvette is ~$150M - compare that with the $470M cost of an under armed LCS *without* adding in the cost of a mine module, and you can see where buying specialized vessels are hugely attractive.

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  4. Yuck. This has Rube Goldberg written all over it. Just to do 20kts.

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    1. BSmitty is 100% right on this crazy scheme. I would add the landing completely ignoes a couple of facts of life: will the folding ends work in an existing wet well? AND LCUs are loaded alongside by Lo/Lo method which apparently is NOT considered in this design? WTF over?
      AND stick to what the vessel type is intended for i.e. Cargo Lift to/from shore.
      IMHO all that turning around in seaway is NOT realistic.
      Some form of self-protection is needed but added weapons to larger landing craft his easy and I would note has NOT been done by the USN since Vietnam! Go look at the Mobile Riverine Force Assn website

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    2. Why should LCU-F unfolded to 'full glory' not work within a wet well-deck ? The article clearly discussed that scenario upon return for the second load.

      Using her afterdeck to place things on first suggest would allow rolling stuff (with wheels or tracks) down into her cargo-bay.

      Your wheel is welded on 'straight-only' ? Two 90-degree turns ought not to overwhelm anyone...

      So, you are comparing an offshore-to-inshore run over perhaps 200nm deep into a hostile coastal zone as one vital element of clearly a major military and political commitment to very aggressive action with some sort of riverine duty ?

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  5. The notion that every platform has to be able to defend itself because the battle space can't be properly prepared is rather problematic. Many support ships and craft are not equipped for self defense. That said LCS is vulnerable to anti ship missiles and if there is a requirement for mine warfare vessels to be equipped with a 57mm gun to deal with speed boats we can certainly arm the MCM's.

    The US had major issues with naval mines vis a vis North Korea, Iraq, and Iran. These aren't exactly peer level threats. Small cost effective MCM's are exactly what is normally required and exactly what we presently forward deploy and operate. LCS, or any armed mine hunter, is not going to survive against peer level air, surface, and/or subsurface threats until those are rolled back.

    The issue isn't that we're putting some mine warfare systems on other ships but rather we are entirely replacing full time cost effective mine warfare forces with part time forces operating modules aboard expensive ships.

    We've had gunfire support vessels operating in and near shore since before the nation was founded. During Vietnam we had myriad vessels doing NGF and supporting all manner of boats and craft as well as helicopters. During the Falklands the RN operated an inshore squadron daily performing NGS. Putting "10" AGS on any ship is beyond ridiculous. The issue isn't the number of tubes but ammo storage, movement, and protection. DDG-1000 doesn't carry enough ammo for it's 2 guns and in any case is far too important and expensive an asset to operate close enough to shore to exploit the range of the guns. That said at least it can defend itself against anti ship missiles which would matter if we were going to send ships within range of a significant threat in the first place.

    The other role for a monitor would be supporting various boats and craft including patrols boats, mine hunters, etc., along with helicopters and all manner of unmanned vehicles. One can talk threats all day but it's simply ridiculous to assume we have troops operating ashore but it's somehow too dangerous for our ships to operate close enough to support them.

    In any case the patrol boats the nation requires for the most part don't exist. The original Street Fighter concept of a 300 to 500 ton vessel (which was actually called LCS) was grown into a corvette/light frigate and will replace our MCM's and patrol boats (the few Cyclone's we bothered to build 20 years ago). LCS was not designed to be fast to exploit speed operationally but rather to race back to port to swamp out for new mission modules. This entire concept of operations is 100% flawed, according to the USN, and the modules are so expensive for the most part each LCS will operate single role.

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  6. From a USMC-centric perspective it seems appropriate to refer to the 75-page report entitled "Naval Amphibious Capability in the 21st Century" and produced by the USMC Amphibious Capabilities Working Group April 27th 2012: http://www.defenseinnovationmarketplace.mil/resources/MC%20Amphibious%20Capabilites.pdf

    In that more recent definition of USMC/USN amphibious priorities we find 16 pages alone dedicated to the importance of "U.S. Naval Surface Connector Assessment", with a serious sense of urgency to at long last have access to a serious tool for the job.

    Between this current highest-level reality- and thus needs-assessment, and the much discussed principles underlying STOM and OMFTS we'd find that LCU-F seems to be the first project deployable via an ARG/ESG (consisting of extant vessels !) to
    - a.) actually allow an MEU Ground Combat Element First Wave,
    - b.) do so from up to well beyond 200nm out to sea to protect the ARG,
    - c.) via up to 15 surface-borne force-insertion points.
    That would seem indeed an unprecedented capability, long-overdue, all within our current amphibious-fleet well-deck footprint, and without 'advanced propulsion'-concepts, liberal (dreamy) applications of Unobtainium, and no apparent eagerness to overwhelm the laws of physics one more time via unlimited experimentation and thus funding.

    The designers produced and the expert co-authors endorsed
    - a.) a lower-cost (actually affordable in the necessary numbers of between 60 and 90 units),
    - b.) low-signature (least air-draft, quiet, low visual and IR signature) lower-tech hull-concept,
    - c.) with apparent diesel-based mechanical/hydraulic complexities on the level of a common backhoe.

    That high-performance/lower-tech approach may be exactly what the USMC-USN Team requires and the 'Age of Fiscal Austerity' stone-cold-soberly demands.

    Let's assume a steel-&-diesel-based prototype comes in at the cost of an MH-60, this would seem (implausibly ?) affordable when compared to the 3+ billion EFV experiment. 'High-performance' indeed...

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    1. preaching to the choir but one thing about this actual concept concerns me. the piroit that is necessary just before landing is an issue. i just can't wrap my head around stopping, swinging the boat around and landing backwards.

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    2. Folks - by doctrine ! - 'wrap their heads' around the full-view/zero-stealth/zero-'surprise'/'fat-target' ARG visuals and IR emissions of over 80,000tons of ships right on the horizon.

      Word is that 11kts LCU has now been age-reduced to 140 tons of cargo. And it is apparently current policy to embark the MEU at now well under 15 nm distance from shore... No wonder folks discuss extensively 'preparing' the theater !?

      Which makes turning LCU-F around far OUT-OF-SIGHT progressively and overwhelmingly 'intuitive'...

      As she proposes with her project, the designer indicates that well 'Over-The-Horizon' LCU-Fs would take a hard turn to bleed off the speed to a brief full-stop, and then re-accelerate stern-first for the last say 10-15-20 miles, depending upon shore-topography.

      In fact this maneuver seems more 'rational' than casually assuming by Doctrine the need to turn LCU and LCAC/SSC around right in the midst of combat !!


      LCU-F looks to have an air-draft of about 10 feet. And that Kayak-type shape and silhouette along with well-muffled engines - without turbine IR-plumes nor massive clouds of white spray - does little to attract an outlook's or sensor's eye.

      That Over-The-Horizon turning maneuver would likely be the time to get those AH and UH helos off the LCU-F flotilla's stern-decks - which in a zero-emissions scenario would 'officially' mark the beginning of the 'hot' stage of the Assault.

      As scouted and ok'd by Zero-Wave SOC assets, essentially 'all hell breaks loose' with radiation, noise, lots of 'visuals' suddenly filling the ether and the defenders (presumably) unprepared minds - at least in one not inconceivable LCU-F-based scenario leveraging OTH-100, OTH-150, OTH-200.

      Helos 'suddenly' appear, strafe targets on and behind the beach, their aerial assault carefully choreographed with sea-skimming fixed-wing assets, missile salvos, sea-skimming MV-22 and CH-53.

      Then the 12 LCU-Fs and 3 LCAC/SSCs arrive in one or 15 locations, whether 'right-in-yer-face' or full of deceptive ambitions, 'dog-legging' their way to 'their spot', with some perhaps disappearing again OTH ...tasked to respond to the rapidly evolving situation to follow-on the others that just landed 'elsewhere'.

      Once a plausible option, the ARG moves in closer...

      I sure can 'wrap my head' around that approach !

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    3. ok. so the turn takes place outside of view of the enemy. good to go. i'm not hating on this concept, but how is the drive set up to allow travel in two directions? water jets? screws? i can see a helicopter flying backwards as fast as it does forward but a water vehicle? has that ever been done? additionally you're losing all of your hydrodynamic efficiency (hope that's the right term) because you become an ordinary landing craft for the last leg of the trip right?

      it seems workable and i'm all for it but have the designers done any water tank testing with scale models? i'd love to see ONR do so if they haven't. this seems right up there alley.

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    4. The article references COTS (Commercial Of The Shelf) propulsions-systems. To match this application they would have to be the 'azimuthing' types, i.e. capable of rotating 360 degrees around the vertical axis - nowadays a common attribute on modern tugs, oil-field supply vessels, research-vessels, certain smaller and large Ferries, certain cruise-ships etc. So, with those systems the power can be 'vectored' in any direction at 'perfect' propeller-efficiency.

      According to the basic tech-specs Susanne Altenburger offers, LCU-F measures about 270' x 22'- meaning a very lean 12.3 : 1 length-to-beam ratio. Bolger & Altenburger clearly aim not just at well-deck correct stowage but shoot for about 20kts speed on moderate power per cargo hauled. And that is old and simple 'wisdom' in boat and ship-design.

      The pointy 'wave-piercing' bow would be imperative to cover the offshore 80-90% of the distance at highest speed attainable.

      However, with the tail-ramp pulled up to about the angle shown in illustration #2 (p.62) that stern could quite well become a (temporary) 'bow' of about 2/3s the width of LCU-1610's 'regular' bow, but with a better angle to part/suppress wave-action.

      With that lean shape and 100% power effectively transmitted into the water pushing the hull in 'the other direction' via with a moderately degraded 'bow-shape', it is not unreasonable to expect that she'd likely cover the remaining 10-20% of the distance at nearly the same speed in smoother conditions and perhaps 15kts in more challenging conditions - still way better than blunter and wider LCU-1610.

      And COTS Flush-Thrusters have been around for a bit, and as primary-propulsion power full-time vessels much larger that 420-tons LCU-F. And their super-shallow water capabilities right at the beach, in the estuary, the salt-marsh creeks predictably come at the cost of maximum speed. The authors point this out, mentioning about 10kts max.
      The most serious issue when running under those units would be the actual shallow-water speed attainable between power-input and hull-interaction with the channel transited - an issue Ben Franklin was actually curious about some time back in France...

      So, in the COTS universe high-speed deeper-draft propeller-power and super-shallow draft thruster-power can be vectored 360-degrees. And a 'mediocre' (temporary) bow on such a lean type is not a major hydrodynamic concern - particularly under the conditions stated and the tactical benefits inherent in LCU-F.

      Fairly 'boiler-plate' reasoning by these two designers, it seems...

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    5. As to ONR, to the extent that heavy-lift LCU-(X) has been on their agenda since the 1960s, they appear to have other preference on matters 'connector'.

      As the piece states, it is Bolger-Altenburger that developed LCU-F in-house in its details and thus doctrinal implications. And as a Small Business they sure would not have the massive resources of ONR. But the outfit has been at it for now 61 years, which should allow for a fair bit of 'experimentation' across a documented 680+ designs and 6 books with McGraw-Hill.

      In fact, in their 'universe' it may not be implausible to just invest the funding deemed necessary just for simulations and tank-testing into the behavior of the type right into a 1/4-scale prototype to then be used in tidal rivers and open waters. With this simple shape and low power demands used here, this would not be much of a construction- or 'systems'- challenge.

      Clearly two very different approaches to addressing the OMFTS- and STOM-correct LCU/Connector challenge to the Marines and the Navy.

      In comparison, Bolger-&-Altenburger seem quite effective so far, deeply rooted in the ‘real-world’ demands of the Working Waterfront culture of 'getting things done'... Sounds a bit like the Marines alright!

      I'm about to well up in tears...

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    6. 20-20 ONR has been trying to produce a practical fast landing craft for DECADES now and nary a one has gotten to production. The LCAC was based on British technology and construction techniques which are NOW obsolete. SSC is nothing more than a product improved design with a small increase in payload and VAST increase in cost.
      The LCU-F is another exquisite system resulting from exagerated rqmts which will be too expensive to build in quantity, .... AND which does NOT solve the problem about HOW to deploy them, i.e. what ships are available to lift them to the AOA. THE principle problem today is lack of landing craft spots on amphibs. How does this design IMPROVE that situation?
      Being a two time Gator sailor I doubt they be used in distributed operations.
      While the reduced signature is a good feature, it results in a smaller cargo space which is not usable for Lo/Lo operations. Or is that something else the Navy is giving up on?
      Once again the key formula for a fast landing craft is: Payload decreases as speed increases. See more on the Textron LCU-R thread.

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    7. All familiar with the track-record and both the LCU-(x) and SSC proposals 'in the works'. The puzzling thing has been the decades-long lack of success in conceptualizing a 'connector' that actually allows using an ARG 'in anger' to begin with.

      Any 'connector' ideas that keep the flotilla within range of even ho-hum shore-defenses clearly hamstring the Marines de facto 'by design'. A succession of under-evolved 'connectors' have de facto kept that force from plausibly contemplating executing aggressive amphibious assaults beyond 'simulations' etc. all due to the absence of a suitable fast heavy-lift transport.

      This may be so because investing full conceptual energies in the development of modest 'ferry'-concepts are apparently not deemed career-makers amongst otherwise very capable specialists however intellectually interested in 'larger fry'.

      As result, fairly predictably so, no ARG/ESG commander will want to risk seeing their LHD listing and smoking on CNN etc. Which in turn produces 'great thinkers' to quip 'amphibious assault - we don't do that anymore...'

      LEESEA, beyond LCU-F apparently matching
      - OMFTS,
      - STOM
      and
      - the desirability to generate a MEU GCE FIRST WAVE in one shot,
      what are the exaggerated requirements you seem to detect ?

      Having just redone 8-vessel class LSD-41 for another 20+ years and those being able to carry 6 LCU-Fs each, what are the challenges of using those to deploy them ? Maximizing 200-tons load-carrying capability to match that limited supply of 'spots' seems indeed the point behind LCU-F.

      (Footnote: If Pres. Carter had had his way, 24 LSD-41s would have been built... and be available. But we have one more super-carrier instead.)

      Why should LCU-F be 'too expensive' - and in comparison to what ? Unless giving up on the idea of expeditionary assault altogether is deemed a 'saving'.

      Was not the TEXTRON LCU-R to do about 20kts, with perhaps the same load, but many multiples of turbine horsepower, while taking up too much room inside the well-deck to carry enough of them to get anywhere near a First Wave capability ?

      Another odd underdeveloped concept of selling a conventional planing-hull, pour on the power and budget and ...well not.

      It seems that the Marines have been quite restrained in finding themselves again and again across literally decades being 'offered' this stuff as 'best thinking'... Self-propelled (shoot-&-scoot) 8" howitzers were able to 'reach out' up to 16nm in the early '60s. Today, 50 years later, policy is <15nm distance ship-to-shore ?!

      One fairly cheap way to get more well-deck spots to run mote copies of upgraded long well-deck (440-feet) LSD-41. Under CNO Greenert's principles of 'payload-centric thinking' nothing would be more adaptable across many decades of ever evolving service-demands than affordable long well-deck LSD-41 types singularly capable to accept up to 6x 420-tons of float-in/float-out 'mission-suites' - preferably self-propelled. You pick the future, and they could carry respective internal wherewithal globally.

      So, whence cometh thy discontent with LCU-F ?

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    8. CORRECTION :
      On TEXTRON LCU(R) no "turbines" for primary propulsion - Four Diesels with 4x water-jets. "It's been a while..."

      Powered by 4x 3000HP MTU/DDC 16V-4000 Diesels = 12,000HP to carry 3x 70ton M1A2.
      No projected numbers handy on expected speed with that load.
      Flat-Out light speed 36kts.
      Range at 28kts (@ what load ?) 900nm

      LCU-F speed with 2x 1200Hp Diesels at 300tons (partial load) 20 kts, loaded w/ 200tons (3 M1A2s) full load = 19kts
      Range: 1500nm at full-load full-speed.

      While overall faster than LCU-F, due to half the available hulls LCU-R would not match LCU-F's carrying-capacity. And GCE full-scale First Wave capability seems to have not been a priority for LCU-R !

      Shape-wise at 133.6' x 43' x 5'2"(full load) the opposite of LCU-F at 270' x 22' x 4.5'

      LSD-41 can carry a maximum of 3x LCU-R to carry maximum of 9xM1A2 using 36,000HP.
      LSD-41 can carry a maximum of 6x LCU-F to carry maximum of 18M1A2 using 14,400HP.

      LCU-R would need 72,000HP to haul what LCU-F does with those 14,400HP.
      But how would we carry 12x LCU-Rs ? Build more ships to make up for an under-performing concept ?

      Iraq/Afghanistan tragically reemphasized the enormous cost in blood & treasure of massive logistical demands, incl. for fuel.

      In Amphibious Assault, I'd rather see the helos and GCE get that juice...

      On that 'mad' tank-load, few MEU Commanders would propose these 'too-many-eggs-in-one-basket'-loads, but good to have up the sleeve if, say, the Fourth Wave can bring in that many tanks off a 'sea-base' MLP etc. somewhere to boost the fortunes of the First Wave GCE. With LCU-F's range, longer runs to such sea-bases would seem plausible, depending upon sea-conditions (!), though likely less problematic with kayak-like LCU-F than with 'pram'-like LCU-R.

      Freedom of conceptual speech in the market-place of ideas...
      Both got heard.

      Outcome ? Way too soon to know on LCU-F.

      Is there enough Amps behind this Rah-Rah approach ?

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  7. There are plenty of scenarios in which suddenly showing up from hundreds of miles away when last seen the day before would be very effective. Surprise, stealth, rich opportunities for virtual attrition via this very pointy 'Tip of the Spear'. These options reconfigure many assumptions underlying war-gaming and broad doctrine.

    Mining every piece of 'landable' shoreline would be quite an effort, typically well-observable via 'interested' sensors, and finite. There sure seems an extensive investment in surface- and air-borne sweeping capabilities for those cases.

    And between the compact air-borne systems and the 140-tons weight-projection for the LCS-based minesweeping system, we might find a way to leverage the 200-tons LCU-F cargo-bay to send her out to attempt this work.

    The German Navy used non-magnetic steel off their submarine production-line to build steel minesweepers (Types 333 and 352). The Soviets did something like that also.

    Perhaps an option for an LCU-F-based minesweeping system on a few non-magnetic steel-hulls - one per ARG ?

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  8. Their reference to the 55,000gals Combat-Tanker Option suggests (empty- only fuel) extended self-deployment range burning 2400 HP at 19kts 'flank-speed' for a 'wild' range well in excess of 8,000nm - assuming the thing and her crew survive such long-endurance high-seas endeavors. If carrying some useful stuff - MLRS/HIMARS-based Shore-Bombardment - perhaps half that... Making fierce noise 'elsewhere'.

    And as they mention, if that helo-landing scheme is confirmed by NAVAIR folks, there'd be a FARP just outside of mortar and artillery reach with her constantly moving.

    The more one let's the opportunities sink in, there'd be a floating MASH-equivalent conceivable before shore-based facilities are available. Stabilize the wounded aboard LCU-F, then send them to the LHD's hospital.

    OH-58 and AH-6 might fit on that pad over the 'bridge'...

    Lot's to 'feast' on here.

    Between apparent costs and inherent promise, this should be hard to resist by decision-makers.

    'Gator' indeed - low, lean, with plenty of 'nasty' in the belly....

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  9. Another Comparison:
    Courtesy of the thorough research of Blog-Boss, easily looking up basics on PACSCAT appears to reveal a design-mentality similar to that that may have stifled LCU-X development here as well:

    1. Lots of power, here 7500HP combined to carry just one MBT at 19kts - which makes LCU-R 'sensible'. At least the engineers were happy...

    2. By explicit choice of her geometry, not much apparent interest in allowing adequate numbers of units inside the amphibious fleet's given well-deck parameters in order to produce anything like a potent First Wave entry, only 'understandable' in light of Royal Navy's minuscule total foot-length of extant well-decks, which would not allow anything like a MEU First Wave anyway...

    3. Ditto for the 200nm range with that fuel-burn.

    Again and again, engineers hug themselves in a rush of technical accomplishment as immortalized on video. But little apparent thought to the core-conceptual tactical demands to 'deliver', such as more than a few items from nearby, never mind issues of relative wear and tear.

    Both PACSCAT and also L-Cat are innovative - just not 'quite' to the point it seems... And the point is not to invent something 'different' that has actually little practical application in the field for which it is presumably intended.

    While LCU-F seems way more respectful of the actual needs of the Marines, they should be given a prototype to beat up and find out where LCU-F breaks first...

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