The Navy needs a new, 21st-century landing craft utility (LCU)—the kind of flexible, shallow-draft, fast-moving cargo-carrier required for putting Marine Corps tanks and armored vehicles ashore during a modern-day amphibious landing.
To be sure, technological breakthroughs have given warfighters a wide array of options for transporting personnel and equipment during the first wave of an amphibious landing. The LCAC (landing craft, air cushion) and the MV-22 tiltrotor aircraft are the newest additions. The Navy is modernizing many of the older workhorses in its amphibious fleet, from the AAV (amphibious assault vehicle) to the LHD-1, LHA-6 and LPD-17. And tactics such as vertical envelopment using large numbers of helicopters have proved effective for limited operations. Indeed, no other navy can match the United States’ for numbers, technology, or breadth of experience.