Friday, August 02, 2013

Blast from the past. LACV-30.

Meet the LACV-30.  An unusual boat with a limited capability, limited service and proof positive that the Army should stay in its lane when it comes to ship to shore logistics.  via FAS.
The LACV-30 was designed to carry 25 to 30 tons of containerized cargo in an over-the-shore logistics operation. Because an average container loaded with military materiel weighs approximately 18 to 20 tons, LEA reported that the LACV-30, whether self-loading or not, could safely carry only one randomly chosen container. The agency questioned whether such hauling capability was worth the severe penalties incurred. LACV-30 used five to seven times as much fuel required (per container loaded) as for conventional lighters. Extensive training was required for operators (100 hours), navigators (35 hours), and maintenance personnel. The LACV-30 faced high unit production costs, and high operation and support costs (the extent of which was not fully known).
An Army executive meeting to review the program was held on 15 January 1979 with decisions made to accept the LACV-30 as a standard Army item, begin procurement of production items, and conduct a follow-on evaluation test with the initial four craft produced. A program was conducted on the LACV-30 to test proposed improvements to the craft prior to production. A contract for initial procurement of four LACV-30's with options for follow-on buys of eight more craft, was awarded to Bell Aerospace Textron in September 1979.
In 1980 GAO recommended that the Army not commit procurement funds for the air cushioned lighterage vehicle (LACV-30). The Army had not done a cost and benefit analysis between the vehicle and an amphibious craft (LAX-LX) to determine if on-hand assets could meet amphibian watercraft requirements. GAO questioned the procurement because the Army did not know firm requirements and did not know the true performance of the air cushioned vehicle. A contractor charged with evaluating the joint tests also noted major concerns which created questions as to the air cushion vehicles' viability. Their report questioned load limitations less than the rated 30-ton capacity. Heaviest loads carried during the joint tests were between 22 and 23 short tons. Fuel consumption averaged 130 gallons per hour, which is about five times as much fuel as that required for conventional lighters. There were adverse effects of blowing sand, dust, and salt water on personnel and equipment.
Go to FAS to read the entire article, but I find it interesting that the LARC-LX was a competitor and eventually "won" the battle.  Quite honestly it sets up what should be battle lines today (once we get our financial house in shape...if we get it in shape) between the LCAC and an upgraded LCU or even a return to a supersize LARC.

Ship to shore logistics isn't fancy but it is important.  Mobile Landing Platforms won't solve the problem.  Only viable connectors will. 


  1. Sol, have started a long series on ship to shore logistics.

    Have only done the first three posts in what I think will be 20 but pop over

    Would like to see your input

    1. I had the Army LACV-30 alongside several of ships I rode. Worked with the Belvior R&D center some. They are trying to figure out HOW to bring ACVs alongside for Lo/Lo discharge in a stable manner. Bouncing boxes off AL decks was not good. They had a floating platform which would be carried much like a Mexeflote on the hull side. BUT the USN dunmps on most sideloading proposals. Indeed the big decks have sides too encumbered with OTHER things and the USN does NOT seem to want big cranes on its amphibs? Myopia reigns supreme IMHO

    2. Think Defence: What do you make of the LCU-F proposition featured in PROCEEDINGS of the Naval Institute July'13 issue, pp.60-64 ?

      Moving the MEU Ground Combat Element (200tons/LCU-F) at 20kts from up to 200nm in likely one shot would allow the need to do a 'hot' landing, while keeping the vital amphibs-squadron well out of reach of just about all shore-defenses.

    3. Twenty Twenty, the full article is for members only so cant really comment and the UK's needs are very different to US ones but as a general throwaway comment I think we tend to focus more on speed and not enough of throughput

      Would be interested to read about the LCU(F)

    4. Subscription to the PROCEEDINGS as another source of professional knowledge is not a prohibitive expense...

      I have advised Altenburger on your interest in the LCU-F piece.

    5. Here's another way to see the PROCEEDINGS' piece on LCU-F:

  2. This definitely appears to be "Speed for the sake of speed" mentality. Look at it cometemporariers. The AMSA (B-1A) Mach 2+, B-1B mach 1+ limited dash. F-15 Mach 2.5+ but try to find a pilot who has actually gone over Mach 2... F-14 Mach 2.3+, again find someone who actually has done that.

    Although we did get the PHM's, too bad they are gone. They had more firepower than the LCS....

  3. Seems like the Ship-to-Shore Connector issue will again come to have the central relevance in USMC-centric discussions under the imperative of retaining and in fact significantly extending the ARG/MEU's wherewithal to project GCE and ACE power 'suddenly' and from well Over-The-Horizon (OTH) - with the vital Amphibs well-protected by distance and layers of screens.

    USMC recently stated the need for at least 60 (preferably faster) heavy-lift units.
    USN is working towards decisions.
    And some very attractive options are on the table.
    USMC's amphibious legacy and future deserve the most potent Connector ever.

    Harlan has it right - a bad period of design-concepts apparently dominated by 'go-fast' aficionados/technophiles who did not necessarily care too much about many other realities of daily service or fiscal constraints.

    The central necessity to reemphasize USMC's amphibious wherewithal will not require high-speed as the definition of 'high performance' but will see 'high-performance' defined by
    - cost-per-unit,
    - available numbers of units,
    - available numbers per ARG amphibs-flotilla
    - carrying-capacity per unit,
    - (and yes!) speed per unit,
    - relative reliability due to well-seasoned systems,
    - and thus perhaps the chance to deliver the GCE and certain ACE-elements to the hostile shore suddenly in one shot to as many as tactically-desirable surface-borne insertion-points as possible.

    USMC amphibious fast heavy-lift capability may and should become one of the most important tools in the USN/USMC toolbox for the next decades.


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