I thought that with the momentum in the ACV program that we were finally seeing two things happen at once. Surface assault would be revitalized and we were taking the first steps at getting our armor house in order.
CoffeeJoeJava poured a ton of salt on my hopes though. Check out his comment...
I can hardly get excited about any vehicle the Marine Corps decides to acquire that does not at least advance the capabilities "generationally" than does the current vehicle. What does this thing bring in advanced capabilities? Does it "swim" faster than current model? Does it swim from further out than the current model? Does it hold more troops than the current model? No. It seems they are buying a vehicle that suits the last war again, not something that advances the current narrative of “25 miles off shore” or anything else for that matter.I need to chew on this.
Right now, all I see is another vehicle that needs a ride to a drop off point for it to swim ashore from 1-5 miles out. Another burden for our very limited "shore connectors" to have to move to shore. Our “connectors” have enough work getting the “King” (Arty) to join the fight, let alone load up some amphibious vehicles and run them to a point to launch them so they can finish the run to shore.
With the "big deck" on the horizon (25 miles) the LCACs have a 30 minute transit (one way load and sea state dependent) 10-15 minutes on the beach to offload, then a 25-30 min transit back to the ship for another load, 20-30 min to load and start over. And one LCAC at a time during the re-load period unless you are driving over one to the other. A total run will take just short of 2 hours for each load. With a big deck amphib fully loaded, we are talking 12-14 loads (no break bulk), not including the 3 pre-boats. Of course none of the LCACs land until the Beach Party is ashore to set up t he LZ’s.
According to a presentation made by CAPT Gearney in 2012 "The USN inventory of LCACs will continue to fall, as the SLEP LCACs are retired, until 2023 when the inventory will reach a low of 40 SLEP LCACs and SSC LCAC-100s. The inventory will remain at 40 until 2026 when the production of SSC LCAC-100s will begin to outnumber the retirement of SLEP LCACs. Current projections foresee the inventory rising to 60 SSC LCAC-100s in 2031 and 72 SSC LCAC-100s on 2034.(1)" That means that in 2023, we are down to 40 LCAC's to support these things....and everything else going ashore since the workhorse LCU-1600's are falling out.
The replacement for the LCU 1600 is "The Navy is doing preliminary design work on its Landing Craft Utility (LCU) replacement now to begin construction within about three years, in time to support one-for-one replacement on the surface connectors in 2022.(2)" Which ship is going to sacrifice well deck space for these? Four LCAC in a Wasp class LHD, four in a LSD (with false beach not installed), 2 in a LPD (San Antonio class). But with LCU's: 2 in Wasp class, 2 in LSD, 1 in LPD. And NONE in the two ship “America” class.
What the Corps needs is a vehicle that can swim fast, is heavily armed (30mm), and can carry troops to the beach from the advertised 25 mile standoff distance. Anything else is useles s.
The implications are stark. If CoffeeJoeJava is right (and I believe he is...I mean hell he gave you links!) then we're seeing the Marine Corps abandoning surface assault. Still trying to understand what this means for the future of the Marine Corps but its not good.
My initial reaction is that the Marine Corps is going away from its roots of being the best combined arms force in the world and heading toward being a light infantry ground force supported with expensive aircraft. In my opinion that is not a winning formula.