Military-Grade Awesome

I Can’t Drive 55: The LCAC

I’m on a bit of a military kick. Probably because much of our technology has its roots in the military. That computer you are reading this post on and the intertubes that transport it to your monitor both hearken back to military needs. So does the Landing Craft Air Cushion.

That’s what the military says LCAC stands for. We all know the military lies, and I’m here to tell you the truth. It stands for Lemur Crushing Assault Craft. Why else would we need such an awesome instrument of strepsirrhine primate crushing power? It couldn’t be that the Navy desired something for beach landing, personnel transport, evacuation, mine countermeasure operations, and Special Warfare equipment delivery. No. That’s just what they want you to believe.

What I can tell you is that there are four gas turbine engines on this bad boy that are used for lift or power, but are interchangeable and can be used for either. In a troop transport configuration, 180 Marines can be delivered to a beach head to fight off radioactive lemurs or anything else that threatens our national security or oil reserves. It can also carry up to 60 tons of equipment and travel up to 300 miles at up to 70 knots (80 mph or 130 km/h) in short bursts. According to the military, this thing can land at 70% of the worlds beaches as opposed to about 15% for for conventional landing craft. Something I’m sure they just say to make Patton jealous and scare the lemur population of Madagascar.

For defense, it comes standard with two 12.7mm machine guns, but, more importantly, the gun mounts can accept the Ma Deuce for maximum bacon protection. The Navy has also used the Mk 19 Mod 3 grenade launcher and even tested the GAU-13 30mm gatling gun on the LCAC.

So, whether you believe me or The Man one thing is for sure: this thing is bad ass.

[Image Credit: Public Domain]

  • Froggmann

    Yep pretty amazing machines. Had the opportunity to visit one of these up close and personal. Turns out one of the folks over at FullSizeBronco.com is a navigator on one of these beasts. I have a few up close and personal pics of one of these showing some of the naughty bits. Since it doesn’t look like I can post photos here go ahead and email me if you want me to forward some of them.

    BTW more on the engines on these buggers, there are four (Of which you touched on) TF40B Gas Turbines which are due to be upgraded to TF60B turbines beginning this year. Each turbine is rated at 3955 HP currently with that number increasing to 6705HP once the TF60B upgrade program is completed. If I recall correctly even with 2 engines disabled the remaining two are powerful enough to keep the craft afloat to finish the mission.

    Another interesting fact is that the operations personnel (Pilot, navigator etc.) are held to the same health and training standards as aircraft pilots.

  • PowerTryp

    Now this time I'm going to stay on topic. Because I'm not an engineer or scientist or even really all that inteligent I have a couple questions. I know this is a hovercraft, but I'm curious as to if it would be considered a ground effect vehicle? Also, I understand that there is a ton of airpressure created by this thing within the skirts there but would it actualy crush a guy if you were to run over him/her?

    • Ground effect vehicles use the interaction between the ground and the wings to generate lift and are considered aircraft. However, they are sort of an in-between step between true airplanes and hovercraft. The main difference being that a hovercraft has fans that blow down at the ground pushing the hovercraft up.

      I've heard that depending on the surface, you can get run over by one of these and live. I think Mythbusters should test this.

    • skitter

      Based on my understanding, fingers are necessary on the bottom of the skirt to maintain some semblance of a seal with the ground. This means means that the craft is supported by pressure across the entire bottom surface, rather than just the pressure within the skirts. Weight is spread evenly across the entire bottom area, at fairly low pressure. I think the greatest risk is being caught and dragged by the skirt once it knocks you down.

      Back of the envelope: 87 tons, 85'x45', 0.3 psi

    • texlenin

      Here- this should give a good introduction into the operation
      of a hovercraft: http://science.discovery.com/videos/how-do-they-d

  • tiberiusẅisë
    • The face of pure, unadulterated evil.

      • aastrovan

        With a fierce hunger for knowledge

  • Number_Six

    Before the Chunnel ruined everyone's fun, the coolest way to get between England and France was the civilian cousin. I rode in one when I was a kid, but all I remember was noise and wanting cotton candy or some other awesomely stupid child stuff.
    <img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2146/2206745387_d2f794d8bb.jpg&quot; />

    • P161911

      The Brits do seem to have an unnatural fascination with hovercraft.[youtube D4pZTaGIv8w http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4pZTaGIv8w youtube]

    • dwegmull

      Those things are cool. They cross the channel in 45 minutes, about half the time of a regular car ferry. When I was a kid we went to see my British family many times. The Channel crossing was the highlight of the trip for me!
      I remember being mystified as to exactly how these weird boats worked…

  • When the Marines go to storm a beach, they sure don't screw around, do they? Not anymore, anyway. Back in my Army days, I took part in a joint exercise where we assaulted a beach Jarhead style in those Amtrak floating deathtraps, and didn't like it one bit, especially when we left their ship and they smirkingly told us that the damn thing was submerged. I'd driven Army tracks before, and knew that they weren't to be trusted in anything deeper than a mud puddle. I was more than happy to leave that Amtrac and assault a hill over an empty beach with no cover, where we surely got slaughtered by the "enemy." This is a much more civilized way to assault a beach, if you ask me.

  • RSDeuce

    The Tidewater Sports Car Club (in Virginia) does their monthly autocross at ACU-4 on Little Creek Naval Base. This is where these things live, and driving/parking around them is pretty awesome. Cool looking things up close and I have been able to talk to a couple of the operators over the years.

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