LCACs permit access to more than 70 percent of the world's beaches as compared with 17 percent for older conventional landing craft. The LCAC launches from the well deck of an amphibious ship, transits at high speed, traverses the surf zone, and lands at a suitable place ashore where it quickly offloads and returns to amphibious shipping for follow-on sorties. Additionally, LCACs deliver vehicles and cargo directly onto dry land rather than in the surf zone. The LCAC is capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots. It carries a 60-ton payload (75 tons in overload) and has a nominal range of 200 nautical miles.
This high-speed, fully amphibious landing craft is capable of carrying a 60-tpn payload (75 tons in overload) at speeds in excess of 40 knots at a nominal range of 200 nautical miles. Its ability to ride on a cushion of air allows it to operate directly from the well decks of amphibious warships. Carrying equipment, troops, and supplies, the LCAC launches from the well deck, transits at high speed, traverses the surf zone and lands at a suitable place ashore where it quickly offloads and returns to amphibious shipping for follow-on sorties. LCACs provide amphibious task force commanders flexibility in selecting landing sites. LCACs permit access to more than 70 percent of the world's beaches as compared with 17 percent for conventional landing craft. Additionally, LCACs deliver vehicles and cargo directly onto dry land rather than in the surf zone. Moreover, LCACs are multi-mission craft that can conduct assault lane breaching, shallow-water mine countermeasures, and logistics support.
A Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) for the 74 active LCACs will extend hull life from 20 years to 40 years. The near-term focus will be on a "C4N" Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Navigation program, to replace the crafts' obsolete equipment. This will focus on replacement of LN-66 radars with modern, high-power P-80 radar systems. Additionally, the SLEP will include an open-architecture concept, relying on modern commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment, which will allow much easier incorporation of later technology changes, such as the precision navigation system and communications systems fully interoperable with in-service and near-term future Joint systems now planned. The C4N program is to complete by 2010, to coincide with the fielding of the AAAV. Through 2016, the Navy will look to incorporate other important service-life enhancements:
Program Status: IOC was achieved in 1986. Contracts for 91 LCACs were approved through FY 97, with 91 craft delivered to the Fleet by the end of 2000. Seven of these have been disassembled for FGE, ten are in deep Reduced Operation Status (ROS), two are held for R&D, and 36 are in use on each coast. The LCAC SLEP began in late 2000.
LCAC Navy Fact File