Hovercraft for Military Applications
Hovercraft are amphibious vehicles that use fans and a rubber skirt to create and maintain a cushion of higher pressure air under the vehicle. The difference in pressure results in lift, which allows the vehicle to hover up to several feet above the ground. Military hovercraft are used by armies, navies and marines for a variety of applications.
Hovercraft will have one or more engines for driving the fans as well as providing forward thrust. These engines will often be diesel-powered, as this provides additional resilience in saltwater environments. The body of a hovercraft will typically be made out of aluminum to allow it to be as lightweight as possible, and some designs are collapsible for easy transport.
Military hovercraft, sometimes referred to as Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) or Air-Cushion Vehicles (ACV), are able to operate in environments that other vehicles may not be able to traverse. They can travel in shallow waters that boats are unable to move through, and their hover height allows them to move over obstacles and hazards such as mud, debris, vegetation and landmines. They are cheaper to operate than helicopters, and require less maintenance and operational footprint.
Hovercraft are able to move very quickly, and are ideal for amphibious assaults, moving troops and vehicles from naval vessels to the shore without putting the larger ship at risk. They may also be used to carry cargo to resupply troops or for humanitarian missions, to evacuate wounded personnel or downed pilots, and for coastal and littoral patrolling.
Military hovercraft can be equipped with a range of accessories, including GPS receivers, searchlights, stretcher mounts, VHF marine radios, and radar. They may also facilitate the mounting of weapons systems such as machine guns and grenade launchers.