A joint training exercise between the Japanese Army and Camp Pendleton-based sailors and Marines also provided the chance to see a hovercraft in action.
LCAC crews from Assault Craft Unit Five trained with the Japanese Army Tuesday as part of an on-going bilateral training exercise between the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force - called "Iron Fist."
The Japanese worked with assets they don't have in their own military like the U.S. Navy Landing Craft Air Cushion or "LCAC."
NBCSanDiego had the rare opportunity to go aboard the hovercraft Tuesday.
“It's basically just a large hovercraft - like a hockey puck flying over land and we're able to transport vehicles and marines from ship to shore,” said Navy LCAC navigator, David Farley. “A lot of people get confused when it comes up on shore and they're looking for the track system underneath but it completely hovers on its own."
You hear its screaming engines as it shoots towards you
Then - it's a storm of sand and spray when it hits the beach
Quickly sliding to a stop - then ready - to load or unload troops and equipment.
"We're able to transport a lot of gear at a very fast pace and assault the beach in a very quick manner," said Farley.
Up to 35 miles per hour - it's quick indeed and it carries up to 75 tons (approximately 11 Humvees.)
Though designed for amphibious assaults on beaches, LCACS have mostly been used for humanitarian missions
After disasters like the Tsunami in Japan, they are sometimes the first vehicles used to bring aid ashore.
The U.S. military believes this type of training not only offers a great learning opportunity for personnel on the ships involved but it’s also important in that it strengthens military ties.