Thirteen years ago the U.S. Navy decided to refurbish its LCACs (Landing Craft Air Cushion), to extend their useful life from 20 to 30 years. The actual work began in 2005, and so far 30 LCACs have gone through the refurbishment, are in the midst of it, or scheduled for the work, at a cost of about $9 million each. Seven LCACs are currently going through the process. Another 72 are in service, ten are in reserve (as replacements), and two are used for R&D. It will take more than a decade to complete the process.
The refurb replaces engines (or extensively upgrades those that don’t need replacement), replaces corroded structural components, and installs new electronics and other support equipment. All that and a paint job and the refurbs look like new but much improved. The upgraded LCACs are easier to maintain and have better and more reliable performance.
The first LCAC was built in 1984, the latest in 2001. The craft entered service in 1987. LCACs can carry 60 tons, at 70 kilometers an hour, over 350 kilometers from the large amphibious ships they are based on. The major advantage of the LCAC is that it can quickly move over marshes and other coastal obstacles. In this way LCACs (which can carry an M-1 tank) can land troops on 70 percent of the coastline in the world, versus only 17 percent for conventional landing craft.