The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab sponsored an Advanced Warfighting Experiment (AWE) featuring the Ultra Heavy-lift Amphibious Connector (UHAC) at RIMPAC 2014. The UHAC half-scale prototype departed Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, entered the water, and proceeded to the amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47), where it entered the ship’s well deck. Once aboard it was loaded with an Internally Transportable Vehicle, after which it launched from the well deck and successfully returned to shore.
The half-scale UHAC weighs 38 tons and is just under 18 feet tall. A full-scale UHAC would be able to transport up to three main battle tanks at up to 20 knots, have a range of 200 miles, and once ashore be able to proceed inland over 10-foot obstacles and through marsh or mud. Because of its great track footprint, the prototype’s ground pressure is only about one pound per square inch (1 PSI), in contrast with a combat-loaded AAV7 with a ground pressure of 9.7 PSI. A full-size UHAC would work alongside and complement Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC).
A full-scale UHAC would be able to transport up to three main battle tanks at up to 20 knots, have a range of 200 miles, and once ashore be able to proceed inland over 10-foot obstacles and through marsh or mud.
The UHAC was originally created by Navatek and the project was funded and carried out by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), according to a USS Rushmore public affairs story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Amanda R. Gray. Gray went on to quote Dr. Frank Leban, program officer at ONR.
“It has taken a number of years of development to get to this point,” said Leban. “This is actually the third demonstration vehicle in this program. There has been a one-fifth scale model, then a one-quarter scale model and this is a half scale model, so we have been progressing. Every vehicle has incorporated more features and technology to help get us to the full scale. Over the past year the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab has gotten involved and they are looking at trying to put this technology in an operational context. They have been coming up with vignettes and scenarios on how the UHAC can be used.”
The UHAC employs tracks with track feet that are fitted with dense air-impregnated foam blocks to give it buoyancy on the water and propel it on land. Its maneuverability and operation is similar to other treaded vehicles. Full-scale operational UHACs would be armed and armored.