April 5, 2007:
The U.S. Navy is refurblishing its
LCACs (Landing Craft, Air Cushion), to extend their useful life from 20 to 30
years. The first LCAC was built in 1984, the latest in 2001. The craft entered
service in 1987. LCACs can carry 60 tons, at 70 kilometers an hour, over 350
kilometers from the large amphibious ships they are based on. There are
currently about 80 LCACs in service. The major advantage of the LCAC is that it
can quickly move over marshes and other coastal obstacles. In this way, LCACs
(which can carry an M-1 tank) can land troops on 70 percent of the coastline in
the world, versus only 17 percent for conventional landing craft.
The refurb will not only handle the obvious items,
like engines and corrosion repair, but also new electronics. The cost of the refurb
will vary with the age and condition of each LCAC, but will average nearly five
million dollars per craft.