Feb. 16 (UPI) — The Australian army announced plans Tuesday to phase out its littoral fleet in favor of a new line of amphibious landing craft.
While the service’s Lighter, Amphibious, Resupply, Cargo vehicle, or LARC-V, vessels are unlikely to change much, the Landing Craft Mechanized, Mark 8, or LCM-8, is “likely to change significantly” under a planned overhaul to the fleet, according to Australian officials.
The new vessel, the Independent Landing Craft, to replace the LCM-8, is expected to be significantly different.
Australian officials said they plan to work with industry partners on requests for proposal later this year, with the new vessels potentially introduced into service in 2026.
“The LCM-8 replacement will see a fundamental change to army littoral operations,” DG Platforms Brigadier Jeremy King said Tuesday in a press release from Australia’s Department of Defense.
“It’s called the Independent Landing Craft and the ‘I’ is there for a reason — so it can project out into the region, without needing to be transported. It will carry everything up to, and including, a tank, and with Army bringing heavier vehicles into service it will match those payloads,” King said.
Defense Minister Linda Reynolds said the new vessels would help the country deliver on objectives outlined in its 2020 Force Structure Plan, including support of humanitarian assistance missions in the Indo-Pacific region.
“We saw the importance of Army water transport on Operation Bushfire Assist 19-20, evacuating Australians to safety off beaches and delivering much-needed supplies,” Reynolds said.
King said the defense department is looking forward to partnering with Australian industry to design, build and manage the new watercraft.
“If these platforms operate for 50 years like the last ones, it’s imperative we get the designs right and build a relationship with whoever is chosen as the supplier,” he said.