As allies in the Indo-Pacific work to build and sustain stability across waterways with significant regional economic and national defence impact, the ability to traverse these waters and shores is more critical than ever.
Air cushion vehicles (ACVs) have been utilised in the region for decades with great success in a variety of mission sets, allowing users to deliver equipment, personnel and supplies to undeveloped shorelines. These vehicles hold an enduring importance for naval and humanitarian missions in the Indo-Pacific. Today, the world’s foremost expert in ACVs has developed a modernised craft to protect and enhance Indo-Pacific security; it is available globally for an efficient and effective solution.
Textron Systems’ Ship-to-Shore Connector (SSC) is a state-of-the-art amphibious vehicle designed to support a variety of naval mission sets. Developed as a replacement for the legacy Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC), which has delivered decisive maritime capability to users including the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force over more than three decades, the SSC is designed with numerous technological advancements to reach 80% of the world’s coastlines, in even the most logistically contested environments.
With a payload capacity of 74 tons, reduced crew requirements to only four personnel, and the ability to maintain a speed of 35 knots at Sea State 3, the SSC can reach even the most underdeveloped shorelines. Built with corrosion-resistant aluminium and four gas turbine engines, this ACV has the power to provide agile “shore to shore” operations in challenging amphibious environments:
- Logistically Contested Environments: The SSC has been proven to safely navigate shallow waters, soft beach landings, and even debris-laden areas. The unique air cushioned hull allows it to withstand harsh weather conditions and rugged coastal terrains, offering unparalleled adaptability for navigating the Indo-Pacific’s waterways.
- Humanitarian and Disaster Relief: With its ability to transport 74 tons of payload, users can deliver essential equipment, vehicles, aid supplies and personnel over both land and water. SSC technology is developed to continue the tested and proven humanitarian relief efforts of the legacy LCAC. Utilised in the aftermath of natural disasters, the legacy LCAC demonstrated its ability to reach isolated communities, deliver immediate relief and facilitate evacuations.
- Island Hopping: Navigating landforms with a variety of terrains, many of which have limited infrastructure, the SSC provides seamless transportation between islands, enhancing connectivity and strategic reach. By providing a reliable and swift connection, the SSC enables more efficient resource allocation, improved defence capabilities, and faster collaboration during joint military exercises.
With decades of experience manufacturing, fielding and supporting ACVs, customers can acquire the SSC – the most mature, proven technology available – without the prohibitive cost and development time required to design, develop and mature alternative platforms. To ensure seamless integration and optimal utilisation of the SSC, Textron Systems offers comprehensive training programs to operators and maintainers. These programs equip personnel with the necessary knowledge and skills to maximise the SSC’s potential.
Foreign military sales customers can request access to the US Navy’s comprehensive SSC sustainment programmes upon procurement of the craft, thereby receiving hands-on field support and training in-country, spares and parts replacement, and configuration management to significantly reduce the lifetime maintenance cost of the craft. The US Navy’s engagement guarantees access to cutting-edge technologies, rigorous maintenance protocols, and an effective training framework, as well as facilitates international cooperation and the ability of joint forces to respond rapidly to evolving challenges.
Textron Systems’ ground-breaking SSC brings immense potential to established LCAC users like the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force, as well as potential users across the Indo-Pacific region. Through their legacy of designing superior LCAC vehicles and the numerous technical advancements made to the SSC, users can access logistically challenged waterways and shorelines, support humanitarian efforts, aid disaster relief operations, and revolutionises island hopping capabilities. Textron Systems stands ready to support its customers in the region to navigate the challenges of the future, ensuring a safer and more connected world. –ts/adj/mhi (Pix: Textron Systems)