Adapting the engines for the next generation of Navy and Marine Corps amphibious landing craft to a water environment will be a challenge for the program, but builder Textron [TXT] is confident it has adequately accounted for any risk and expects to deliver the vehicles on time, a senior company executive said yesterday.
Textron plans use the Rolls-Royce produced MT7 as the four engines that will go on the Ship-to-Shore Connector (SSC) hovercraft under the contract awarded by the Navy earlier this month. Ray Pilcher, the vice president of Textron Marine & Land Systems, said in an interview that the engine will require additional certification for the water environment to take into account operating close to the ocean, marine air, air control and filtration.
Pilcher added that total systems integration and getting the software right also present challenges ahead, but he expects Textron to meet the two-year timeframe for completing the detailed design and supplying the first training and test craft to the Navy on time in 2017.
“I believe we will we put together what we thought was a relatively low risk schedule,” Pilcher said. “We took into account where we say ‘gotcha’ and potential problems along the way.”
The MT7 comes from Rolls Royce’s family of AE 1107C engines, which power the Marine Corps and Air Force V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. The MT7 “is not a new engine,” Pilcher said. “It is a slightly adapted engine.”
The Navy on July 6 awarded Textron a $212.7-million contract for the first of the next generation of amphibious landing craft designed for launch from ships to ferry Marines, vehicles, weapons and supplies to shore. The SSC program is intended to replace the fleet of legacy Land Craft Air Cushioned (LCAC) vehicles, which were also built by Textron and first deployed in 1982. The LCAC fleet is currently undergoing a 10-year life extension.
The new contract contains options for an additional eight Ship-to-Shore Connectors (SSC) that could lift its total value to $570.5 million. The initial part of the contract covers detailed design and the first hovercraft for testing and training. The Navy plans to buy 72 SSCs under a program estimated at about $4 billion.The Navy anticipates initial operational capability for the SSC program in 2020. Textron’s team included L-3 Communications [LLL] and Alcoa [AA]. They won the contract over a team of Marinette Marine, Lockheed Martin [LMT], GE Marine [GE], Oceaneering and Griffon Hoverwork.
The Navy said the SSCs are designed to for a 30-year service life capable of carrying a 74-ton payload and can travel at speeds of more than 35 knots. The craft are used to carry out amphibious assault and landing missions, as well as deploy for humanitarian efforts.