Home' Defence Technology Review : DTR AUG 2014 Contents 15
DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | ISSUE 01 | AUG 2014
UHAC landing craft
in RIMPAC trials
An Advanced Warfighting Experiment by
the US Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory
(MCWL) used the Rim of the Pacific
(RIMPAC) Exercise 2014 to conduct trials of a
unique landing craft design that it is hoped will
provide a capability not currently available with
in-service ship-to-shore connectors (SSC).
The Ultra Heavy-lift Amphibious Connector
(UHAC) is currently being developed by
MCWL in conjunction with the Office of Naval
Research (ONR) as a potential replacement
for the Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC),
where movement inland beyond the shoreline
is severely limited.
Following on from MCWL harbour trials in
Hawaii during March 2014, the RIMPAC trials
in July involved launch and recovery of a half-scale 34 tonne
UHAC demonstrator from amphibious dock landing ship USS
Rushmore, where it embarked the ship’s well deck, before
loading up an assault vehicle and transporting it to shore.
Originally developed by the Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency (DARPA) and ONR based on a concept
design from US shipbuilder Navatek, UHAC (initially known
as the Captive Air Amphibious Transporter) has foam
pontoons with captive air cells on a tank-like track system
which propel it through the water and over land.
The foam tracks have a large ground contact area and
subsequently very low ground pressure, despite the intended
overall mass of the platform. This enables the UHAC to cross
the shoreline and move inland across a variety of terrain,
including soft or water-logged ground such as marsh land
and mud flats, to cargo transfer points well beyond the beach
– a capability the USMC does not possess in its legacy SSC
A full-size UHAC would stand 10.3m high and measure
25.6m in length with a deck footprint of 232 square metres
compared to the LCAC’s 167 square metres. This increased
deck capacity, it is envisaged, will provide the UHAC with a
172 tonne payload (overload; 136 tonnes standard), enable
transport of two M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks at combat
weight or at least eight LAV 8x8 wheeled armoured vehicles.
The LCAC has a 59 tonne payload and can carry four LAVs.
The increased available deck space and payload of the
UHAC will enable it to meet a key USMC requirement
to deliver more combat vehicles ashore per SSC load
compared to the LCAC.
The UHAC also enjoys more than double the range of the
LCAC: 200 versus 86 nautical miles.
The oversize foam track system enables UHAC to literally
crawl over vertical obstacles such as sea walls and sand
banks up to 3m high. The full scale UHAC is projected to
have a water speed of up to 20 knots.
According to ONR estimates, the per-unit production and
maintenance costs of the UHAC would be less than half that
for the LCAC.
– Ian Bostock
The half-scale UHAC demonstrator comes ashore
during trials in Hawaii at RIMPAC 2014.
Lockheed Martin to develop precision air drop system
The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has
awarded Lockheed Martin a contract to design and build
a prototype Precision Air Drop (PAD) unit that will enable
C-130 and C-17 aircraft crews to make safer, faster and more
accurate air drops of essential supplies to ground forces.
Based on the company’s commercially-available
WindTracer wind-profiling technology, PAD will accurately
measure wind conditions to an extent that will allow air crews
to reduce the number of passes required over a drop zone
and drop supplies with greater precision.
WindTracer operates by transmitting pulses of eye-safe
infrared laser light that reflect off naturally occurring aerosol
particles in the atmosphere. Wind moves these particles,
which alters the frequency of the light that is scattered back
to the system. WindTracer processes the return signal to
determine wind conditions with high accuracy.
The PAD prototype will comprise a more compact
WindTracer unit to enable installation on a cargo pallet
and ruggedisation to withstand shock and vibration. The
WindTracer technology will be modified to measure wind
velocity from the ground to the air drop altitude and to send
real-time telemetry to air crews.
Testing of the PAD prototype will include air dropping out
of an aircraft onto a test site where its ability to measure wind
conditions will be evaluated.
Wildcat to receive FASGW
The UK Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and
Technology Philip Dunne has announced that Royal Navy
(RN) AW159 Wildcat helicopters will be fitted with the new
Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon (FASGW).
The £90 million contract with AgustaWestland covers
integration, testing and installation of both the FASGW
Heavy (FASGW(H)) and FASGW Light (FASGW(L)) onto
28 aircraft by 2020. In RN service, the FASGW(H) will
replace the Sea Skua anti-ship missile (ASM) and be
used to target fast attack craft, surface combatants
up to corvette size and static targets on land.
Each Wildcat helicopter will able to carry
four of the 110kg FASGW(H) missile
or 20 FASGW(L) missiles in packs
Guided by an infrared imaging seeker and utilising a two-
way datalink which enables fire-and-forget or mid-course
guidance with man-in-the-loop capability, the FASGW(H)
has a 30kg warhead and range reported to be slightly less
As it emits no radar signal and adopts a sea skimming
approach to the target, the FASGW(H) should render
detection by defensive radars more difficult. Drop-launched
from the helicopter in either lock-on before launch or
lock-on after launch mode, manufacturer MBDA claims the
FASGW(H) is able to be programmed by the operator to
“simply disable a target or destroy and sink”.
The Anglo-French FASGW(H) will replace the AS15TT
in French Navy service, equipping the NFH90 naval
The Thales FASGW(L), also known as the Light Multi-
role Missile, is a 13kg weapon with a range of up to 8km
and 3kg blast fragmentation/shaped charge warhead. Its
utility is anticipated to be against fast inshore attack craft
and small boats.
RN Wildcats are scheduled to achieve initial operating
capability in early 2015.
– Mario Attopardi
image of a RN Wildcat
firing the FASGW Heavy.
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