DN - Defence Notes

Surface Navy: Textron prepares for SSC testing

13th January 2017 - 02:01 GMT | by Scott Gourley in Arlington, Virginia

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The first test and training LCAC under the US Navy's Ship-to-Shore Connector (SSC) programme - known as LCAC 100 - is due to be delivered this year.

Manufacturer, Textron, is ramping up its testing now that the delivery of the final software from partner L-3 is due by 26 January, with final connections and engine tests leading to floating the first craft for tether tests around late-March or early April.

Speaking at the Surface Navy Association exhibition, Bill Kisiah vice president for marine systems at Textron Marine & Land Systems said: ‘We’ll do our own reliability growth testing prior to delivering it to the Navy. And then the Navy will take it and do their own reliability growth testing,’

He noted that LCAC 101 is currently about three months behind the first craft and was envisioned as a possible risk mitigation craft in case anything happened to the test and training craft. ‘We won a competitive contract in 2012 to go through detailed design,' he said.

‘After that we were awarded two additional craft – 102 and 103 – and subsequent to that we were awarded crafts 104 – 108,’ he said. ‘So we currently have five craft under construction with a total award of nine craft to date.’

The complete program of record calls for 72 of the new platforms.

Designed as the replacement for the existing Landing Craft Air Cushioned (LCAC), SSC will provide a modernized means for the US Navy and Marine Corps to land on more than 80% of the world’s shorelines for the next 30 years. These craft will offer increased reliability and maintainability, as well as meet requirements of increased payload and availability.

Platform enhancements include: Greater fuel efficiency with more powerful engines; Enclosed personnel transport module that can hold up to 145 combat-equipped Marines; Improved skirt design reducing drag and craft weight; and corrosion-resistant aluminium, which increases availability and lower life-cycle maintenance costs.

According to Kisiah, the Navy took lessons learned from the LCAC programme and picked about 25 key drivers to reliability for the LCAC.

‘For example, we did increased weight lifts,’ he said. ‘We had to do a 74 short ton lift to accommodate an M1A1 Abrams battle tank.  We also used anti-corrosive types of aluminium, composites for composite shafts, bigger engines to increase the power and lift, and the ability to accommodate personnel.’

Introduction of an in-flight type control system also reduced crew manning from three people to two in the command module.

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