U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific

 

U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific

In Any Clime and Place

The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab showcases the UHAC during RIMPAC 2014

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Amanda R. Gray | U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific | July 16, 2014

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MARINE CORPS TRAINING AREA BELLOWS, Hawaii – The Ultra Heavy-Lift Amphibious Connector prepares to enter the well deck of the USS Rushmore to load up heavy equipment during its first mission off the coast of Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, July 11, during a Marine Corps Advanced Warfighting Experiment. The AWE is the culmination of a decade of progressive experimentation conducted by the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab (MCWL) where they are testing potential future technologies, solutions and concepts to future Marine Air Ground Task Force challenges. The AWE is taking part during the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014, the world’s largest international maritime exercise. The UHAC prototype is a ship-to-shore connector and is half the size of the intended machine. Currently, the UHAC travels at four knots using a track system with floatation-like pads that propels itself through different terrain. For its first mission, the UHAC paddled two miles off the coast and loaded up an internally transportable vehicle (ITV) aboard the USS Rushmore before disembarking and headed back to MCTAB to offload the vehicle. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Matthew J. Bragg)

MARINE CORPS TRAINING AREA BELLOWS, Hawaii – The Ultra Heavy-Lift Amphibious Connector prepares to enter the well deck of the USS Rushmore to load up heavy equipment during its first mission off the coast of Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, July 11, during a Marine Corps Advanced Warfighting Experiment. The AWE is the culmination of a decade of progressive experimentation conducted by the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab (MCWL) where they are testing potential future technologies, solutions and concepts to future Marine Air Ground Task Force challenges. The AWE is taking part during the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014, the world’s largest international maritime exercise. The UHAC prototype is a ship-to-shore connector and is half the size of the intended machine. Currently, the UHAC travels at four knots using a track system with floatation-like pads that propels itself through different terrain. For its first mission, the UHAC paddled two miles off the coast and loaded up an internally transportable vehicle (ITV) aboard the USS Rushmore before disembarking and headed back to MCTAB to offload the vehicle. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Matthew J. Bragg) (Photo by Cpl. Matthew J Bragg)


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MARINE CORPS TRAINING AREA BELLOWS, Hawaii – The Ultra Heavy-Lift Amphibious Connector showcases its capabilities to advance through different terrain during a Marine Corps Advanced Warfighting Experiment at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, July 9. The AWE is a culmination of a decade of progressive experimentation conducted by the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab and is committed to demonstrating potential future technologies and solutions to future Marine Air Ground Task Force challenges during the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014. Lt. Col. Don Gordon, the current technology officer at MCWL, said the UHAC is one of those experimental technologies that displays a possible capability of being able to insert Marines in areas where current technology wouldn’t be able to insert them based on current systems that are fielded. The UHAC prototype is a ship-to-shore connector and is half the size of the intended machine. Currently, the UHAC travels at four knots using a track system with floatation-like pads that propels itself through different terrain. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Matthew J. Bragg)

MARINE CORPS TRAINING AREA BELLOWS, Hawaii – The Ultra Heavy-Lift Amphibious Connector showcases its capabilities to advance through different terrain during a Marine Corps Advanced Warfighting Experiment at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, July 9. The AWE is a culmination of a decade of progressive experimentation conducted by the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab and is committed to demonstrating potential future technologies and solutions to future Marine Air Ground Task Force challenges during the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014. Lt. Col. Don Gordon, the current technology officer at MCWL, said the UHAC is one of those experimental technologies that displays a possible capability of being able to insert Marines in areas where current technology wouldn’t be able to insert them based on current systems that are fielded. The UHAC prototype is a ship-to-shore connector and is half the size of the intended machine. Currently, the UHAC travels at four knots using a track system with floatation-like pads that propels itself through different terrain. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Matthew J. Bragg) (Photo by Cpl. Matthew J Bragg)


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MARINE CORPS TRAINING AREA BELLOWS, Hawaii --

The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab sponsored an Advanced Warfighting Experiment featuring a half-scale Ultra Heavy-lift Amphibious Connector (UHAC) prototype at the Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, July 11.

The UHAC is a track-driven connector that can reach reasonable water speeds and access beach areas that Landing Craft Air Cushions (LCAC) and Landing Craft Utilities (LCU) cannot. The UHAC was originally created by Navatek, and the project was funded and carried out by the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

“It has taken a number of years of development to get to this point,” said Dr. Frank Leban, program officer at ONR. “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 goal of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab was to assist with the development of the UHAC technology and feature the half-scale model during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014.

“Showcasing the UHAC during RIMPAC is a big deal,” said Dave George, project officer assigned to the Ground Combat Element Branch of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab. “This is a great way to let people know that this new technology is being developed and this is a great way to show what it can do. Today went quite well. We had much better seas then we anticipated, and we were still able to get onto the well deck of the USS Rushmore.”

The model consists of two tracks that are made out of captured-air foam blocks, which give the vehicle the propulsion it needs for land and sea travel. The UHAC is intended to be a heavy lift vehicle; the full-scale UHAC will be able to carry three times more than an LCAC and can go over more obstacles, including 10-foot-high sea walls.

“There was generally some degree of apprehension, since it is a new and unfamiliar piece of equipment and how it would operate with the ship,” said Cmdr. Thomas Stephens, commanding officer amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47). “At the same time, there was an excitement about being in a position to assist in the development of something significant like UHAC. I saw that excitement and pride on board Rushmore a great deal today. It was awesome to see them so proud of what it is they do so well day in and day out. I’m very proud of my crew’s support to the UHAC endeavor.”

The UHAC departed Marine Corps Training Area the Bellows and made its way to the amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47), where it embarked the ship’s well deck. It then picked up and transported an assault vehicle back to shore.

“Today's successful demonstration of the half-scale UHAC is the culmination of months of research and risk analysis,” stated Capt. Clint Carroll, commander, Amphibious Squadron Three. “Setting the right conditions in the well deck was critical to the safe execution of this proof of concept. The Sailors of Rushmore performed flawlessly, and the data collected during this well deck evaluation provides important information for follow-on studies and design improvements.”

Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC exercise from June 26 to Aug. 1 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world's largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world's oceans. RIMPAC 2014 is the 24th exercise in the series that began in 1971.