Thursday, April 07, 2016

Is the US Army about to buy a fleet of French L-CATs?

Thanks to William for the link!

via Defense News.
“We are working our way toward a [request for proposals] for Maneuver Support Vessel (Light) which will replace the [Landing Craft Mechanized 8 (LCM-8)] landing craft,” Scott Davis said at a recent Association of the US Army conference in Huntsville, Alabama.

And according to an industry source, the RFP is expected to be released within the next few weeks.

The upcoming competition marks the first major watercraft procurement in 15 years and is seen as vital to the Army’s increasing focus on the Pacific Rim. Yet, the watercraft have proved their usefulness in the Middle East and South America, too.

The contract winners would build 37 landing craft for roughly $450 million.

The MSV(L) is intended for sustainment missions and as a maneuver option to conduct riverine operations, or get into a denied area, where there is a degraded port or none at all. It is envisioned as having an operational capability from ship to shore and along coastal waters, narrow inland waterways and rivers.
Read the entire article and you'll come across the passage that talks about the French L-CATs.  What has me spinning on that portion of the article is that the US Army is all but signalling that they're rather smitten with that vessel.

What I found interesting in the portion above is how the US Army seems to be evolving in its view on amphibious operations.  You can accuse me of reading too much into this and I might be, but the "maneuver option to conduct riverine operations or get into a denied area" is worth noting in my opinion.

The US Army's 9th Infantry Division conducted Riverine Operations during the Vietnam War and in my opinion we're seeing the first steps back toward reclaiming that skillset.  Additionally the replacement for the Army's larger LCU-2000 class is coming up too.  The direction they go with that craft will tell us alot.  If they go for one of the Landing Ship Tanks (LST) on the market today then we know that they're looking to get back into the amphibious assault game.

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