Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR June 2014 Contents Asia Pacific Defence Reporter JUNE 2014 49
well dock is flooded.
Despite at least one misguided attempt to retire
the LARC-V fleet in the 1990s, the craft’s versatility
was recognised when the stern ramp equipped
HMA Ships Manoora and Kanimbla entered service.
With the two LHDs coming online soon and HMAS
Choules already fully operational the LARC-V’s utility
in the ADF’s logistics over-the-shore capability is
needed now more than ever.
The absence of a LARC-V capability will also have
a knock-on effect for the new Towed Flexible Barge
Discharge Systems recently delivered under Phase 2
of Joint Project 2059 (bulk water and fuel storage and
transfer systems). The LARC-V is a critical component
for the deployment and recovery of this system, which
has direct implications for ship-to-shore movements.
For amphibious assault and combat-oriented ship-to-
objective manoeuvre operations, the LARC-V, indeed
any amphibious vehicle, provides the commander
with the option to insert dismounted forces at multiple
points along a shoreline or withdraw them out of an
area and redistribute them elsewhere.
By very virtue of their capacity to traverse both
water and land amphibious vehicles are also able
to accomplish this when environmental or tactical
conditions preclude the use of helicopters, where the
latter are often constrained by weather conditions,
landing site availability or other operational restrictions.
The LARC-V’s ability to enter the well docks of all
three ADAS platforms, receive troops and supplies,
bring them through open ocean swells and move
directly to an unprepared beach or transfer point
further inland in all weather and regardless of tide or
shoreline conditions is a capability the LCM-1E does
The LARC-V’s seaworthiness enables it to cross
the surfline both ways – a capability unmatched by
any other platform in ADF inventory; considerable size
and mass allowing it to push through 10ft breakers on
its way back out to sea.
High ground clearance (600mm) and large low
pressure balloon tyres enable the LARC-V to traverse
sand or coral beaches and push inland on unimproved
roads or tracks. With the tyres the only form of
suspension the LARC-V certainly offers crew and
passengers a second-class ride, which beats a first-
class walk every time. Beach and surf zone salvage/
recovery and diving support are also LARC-V tasks.
Perhaps though its niche is in the type of low-level
peace support, disaster relief and humanitarian
operations for which both Labor and the Coalition
have long touted as key benefits in acquiring the
LHDs and the sealift ship.
At this lower end of the capability spectrum, the
LARC-V’s 4,536kg payload and generous cargo
deck enable it to deliver meaningful quantities of aid
or supplies during an operation without the need for
landing craft, additional wheeled transport assets,
ports or prepared beaches. The craft’s amphibious
capability enables their use in non-combatant
evacuation for instance, self-deploying directly to a
location without a change in transport mode or the
need for prepared landing sites.
LARC-Vs played critical roles during Hurricane
Katrina and the recent Brisbane floods to evacuate
personnel and access locations where helicopter
landing sites had been inundated with water or
rendered otherwise unusable. In terms of operational
costs, dispatching one of these vehicles to ferry a
small party of personnel or light cargo (anything from
bottled water, medical supplies, building materials or
spare parts) ashore is definitely a more economical
option than allocating a helicopter for the job. A
LARC-V will carry about 25 standing troops, palletised
cargo, engines, bulk ammunition etc at speeds of up
to 8 knots in water or 50km/h on sealed roads. Road
range is around 370km or 40nm on water.
There are no plans currently listed in either the
Defence Capability Plan or Army/Navy Minors project
lists to extend their service life or find a replacement.
It is known, however, that Melbourne’s BMT Design
& Technology conducted a LOTE study of the LCM-8
and LARC-V platforms in 2013. Commissioned by the
Defence Materiel Organisation, Army Marine, the study
encompassed engineering, cost and risk analysis of
both platforms, including a reliability assessment of
all systems in consideration of changes to inspection,
preventative maintenance and repair requirements
over the course of any LOTE. Costings of the various
LOTE options available were also supplied.
Whilst it is unclear whether Defence intends
to proceed with a LOTE for the LARC-V, APDR
understands there are internal suggestions that
the capability needs to be retained, and potentially
expanded in view of the significantly expanded
loads which the LHDs and HMAS Choules can
carry compared to the trio of HMA Ships Manoora,
Kanimbla and Tobruk.
NO SUCCESSOR IN SIGHT
The marketplace is strangely devoid of successors to
the LARC-V. Only the Phibian amphibious truck from
Gibbs Amphibians could perhaps be seen as a partial
replacement. Still a concept demonstrator/advanced
prototype, the Phibian is 9.2 metres long, constructed
mostly of carbon fibre and has an all-up weight of
6,000kg, 1,500kg of which is payload. Around 15
personnel including crew can be carried.
Its ability to plane and achieve high water speeds
of around 26 knots suggests it is more boat than
vehicle. This is reflected also in its smallish wheels/
tyres which appear well suited to boat ramps but not
sand or shoreline terrain. A relatively long wheelbase
of 6.28 metres (4.88 metres for LARC-V), modest
ground clearance (350mm) and resultant break-over
angle could also prove problematic in negotiating the
steel beach ramps in the well docks of the LHDs and
HMAS Choules. The twin 250hp turbocharged diesel
engines enable typical highway convoy speeds. Sea
State limitation is not given.
With obvious payload shortcomings compared to
the LARC-V, the Phibian would also have little utility
in beach salvage/recovery tasks. Useful perhaps
in ferrying light loads or small teams of troops in
sheltered waters or riverine systems, the Phibian
would clearly not be a like-for-like replacement for the
LARC-V if it ever entered production.
LARC-V return to HMAS Tobruk after visiting the island of
Niuatoputapu in Tonga during Operation Samoa Assist.
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