Important hovercraft news as navy announces SLEP for LCAC.
On 8th January, the US Navy announced plans to continue its Service Life Extension Programme (SLEP) for its fleet of circa 74 Textron Landing Craft Air Cushioned (LCAC) hovercraft which are used to provide ship-to-shore amphibious support.
The SLEP is envisaged to extend the service life of the vehicles to 30 years from 20 years. As of 2012, 39 of the 74 fleet had undergone the SLEP, with funding allocated as of 2013 to perform four SLEPs per year up to 2018. However, according to these plans, this would only upgrade a further 20 of the hovercraft, resulting in a balance of circa 15 vehicles awaiting the upgrade.
It is possible that the plans announced in early January will cover some, or all, of these remaining vehicles. That said the current LCAC will be replaced by Textron’s new LCAC-1000 which is expected to enter service from 2020, with a phase-out of the existing LCACs expected from 2019.