New U.S. Navy ship-to-shore connector landing craft contract increases

Textron has been awarded a $7,261,214 cost-plus-fixed-fee/cost modification to previously-awarded contract N00024-17-C-2480, from the U.S. Navy, for landing craft, air cushion special studies, analysis and reviews under the Ship-to-Shore Connector (SSC) program.

New ship to shore connector landing craft contract increases U.S. Navy Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) 58 departs the well deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) during ship-to-shore operations with U.S. Marines and allied partners as part of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise at sea off the coast of Hawaii July 12, 2018 (Picture source: U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Thomas P. Miller)

Work will be performed in New Orleans, Louisiana (80%); Fort Worth, Texas (10%); and Gloucester, United Kingdom (10%) and is expected to be complete by December 2020. Fiscal 2019 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) funding in the amount of $1,421,287 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The U.S. Navy's Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity.

The Ship-to-Shore Connector (SSC), also known as the LCAC 100 class, is a system proposed by the United States Navy as a replacement for the Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC). It will offer an increased capacity to cope with the growing weight of equipment used by the United States Army and Marine Corps. As of 2015, the program is forecast to cost a total of US$4.054B for 73 hovercraft.Although the design will be broadly similar to the LCAC, there will be several significant differences:
* Two-person fly-by-wire cockpit with joystick controls
* More powerful, more efficient engines
* Extensive use of composites and aluminum alloys[5] for corrosion resistance
* Advanced skirt instead of a deep skirt for less drag and reduced craft weight

The four Rolls-Royce MT7 gas turbines that will be used to power each Ship-to-Shore Connector are derivatives modelled after the design of the Rolls-Royce T406 used in the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey. Similar to the interoperability between the engines powering the M1A2 Abrams MBT and the UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter, the cores of the two engine types are identical, which should provide some relief in spare parts storage to those ships that will operate both the (tiltrotor) aircraft and the hovercraft. Top speed will be 50 knts (58 mph; 93 km/h). A simpler and more efficient drivetrain using one gearbox is on each side for fewer parts and maintenance and higher reliability. The SSC has a designed lifetime of 30 years.

The 10th SSC to be delivered will have the capability to launch vehicles into the water rather than need to go all the way to the beach, after which that ability will be retrofitted to the previous nine vessels.