All surface hovercraft
Many military missions take place in secluded areas inaccessible for conventional motorised vehicles or even helicopters and airplanes. Such areas can include: flooded land, mud, riverbeds, shallow water/tidal regions, rapids, shingle beaches, open water, grass, sand, desert, swamps, marshland, weeds, submerged plants, snow, ice, roads, shallow lakes and dried up salt marshes or sandbanks. In these situations, a hovercraft is might be the perfect solution.
A hovercraft’s role is versatile, ranging from reconnaissance, policing, border patrol, GPS surveillance to special forces retrieval. The hovercraft “flies” on an air-cushion 9 inches above any flat, solid or liquid surface and can speed up to 40 mph. For example, in rescue missions for victims who fell through thin ice, a hovercraft is a perfect solution since rescue boats are useless on ice. The same utility applies for rescue missions in muddy environments where vehicles might prove unable to operate.
The hovercraft is easy to tow behind (or carry on) traditional vehicles and can be supplied with a 45 second “quick launch” trailer. The craft can be quickly and safely deployed anywhere, and launch and return to shore without special ramps or the need for operators to disembark into water. This means defence personnel are not left exposed to observation or attack whilst wading slowly through surf or soft ground with wet heavy clothing. The low center of gravity combined with a simple single engine design ensures great manoeuvrability and very simple operation. Simplicity of design means that with minimal operator-training all operators can grasp the basics after only a few hours training. This enables multi-operator use ensuring full focus on the task at hand without the need for specialist pilots.
For military, patrol, rescue and commercial users a hovercraft is cheaper to purchase than the daily operating, staffing and service costs of a helicopter or several types of other conventional vehicles that provide the same all terrain capability. In case of borders that stretch for many miles over a wide range of different kinds of surface types and obstructions, several military hovercrafts allow budgets to be spread over a wider area. This enables more crafts to be deployed to cover rivers, inland and coastal border areas and provide far better coverage and rapid response times than helicopters and other conventional vehicles.
Due to its all surface utility and low price (compared to other means of transportation), a hovercraft is extremely useful for military and humanitarian missions. With its buoyancy, a hovercraft proves its usefulness in situations where other vehicles or helicopters might fail. Also, due to its easy deployment, lives of victims or crew itself are less at risk. And to conclude, the low price of a hovercraft system makes it very attractive for procurement on tight budgets.
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Authors: Hov Pod and MSS Defence