A Textron [TXT] Ship to Shore Connector (SSC) landing craft helped move a Boeing [BA] CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter from Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Fla., to Eglin Air Force Base (AFB), Fla., last month, the Navy said on Thursday.

The Navy said transporting the helicopter by land would require “extensive preparation work” to lower the CH-46 height to safely move on public highways. Instead, Air Force 96th Test Wing talked to Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) and they figured out moving the helicopter via the new hovercraft was another option.

The helicopter was being moved to support future training operations for the Air Force Special Operations Command Special Tactics Training Squadron.

LCAC-103 first moved from Panama City, Fla., to NAS Pensacola, where the CH-46 was loaded onto the craft before it rode to Eglin. This all occurred on Feb. 24.

The Navy said LCAC-103 showed off its amphibious capability by moving from water to shore and the CH-46 was rolled off the deck onto land. LCAC-103 then transited across Santa Rosa Island at the Eglin Test Range to move back to base because it was reportedly the most efficient route back to NSWC PCD.

“This long distance, land hopping mission, supported post-delivery test and trials objectives by successfully gaining reliability growth hours while demonstrating required capabilities for Navy and Marine Corps Expeditionary Forces,” the Navy said in a statement.

“NSWC PCD is a Navy research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) laboratory, and this mission displayed the fruit of the RDT&E and acquisition teamwork, which is providing this critical expeditionary capability to the Fleet. It is always a bonus when that capability supports our sister military branches and partners,” Randy Whitehead, NSWC PCD Air Cushion Vehicle and Seabasing technical program manager, said.

“This was an excellent demonstration of key capabilities such as the LCAC’s unique combination of range, speed, amphibious versatility, and lift capacity. It not only allowed us to successfully execute this mission but also showed how SSC can bring more to the table for future Distributed Maritime Operations,” Whitehead added.

Textron builds the SSCs at its New Orleans shipyard. The craft are designed for a service life of 30 years and to transport 60 to 70 tons of personnel, equipment, cargo or weapons at over-the-horizon distances, based from amphibious ships. They are built with similar dimensions and interfaces and the legacy LCAC-01 craft, but with better engines, higher payloads, smaller crews, fly-by-wire controls and simpler maintenance. The Navy plans to buy 72 of the craft. 

Last month, the Navy also tested two new SSC LCAC-100s interfacing with the USS Carter Hall (LSD-50) dock landing ship (Defense Daily, Feb. 10).

In January, a Navy official said the service was pushing to have four SSC deliveries per year, up from two annually over the last two years (Defense Daily, Jan. 13).