US Air Force Demonstrates Rapid Dragon Missile System With Cargo Aircraft

The US Air Force Special Operations Command has conducted a demonstration of its Rapid Dragon palletized air-dropped missile system with a cargo aircraft at Andøya Space Defense Range, Norway.

During the test, two MC-130J Command multi-mission combat tankers carried the missile system package over the Atlantic Ocean to a Royal Norwegian Air Force training field.

The team was escorted by the 137th Special Operations Wing Oklahoma Air National Guard using an MC-12W Liberty intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft.

According to the air force, the flight was the first to transport a Rapid Dragon using a cargo aircraft in the US European Command theater.

US Air Force personnel load a Rapid Dragon deployment system onto an MC-130J aircraft ahead of an airdrop
US Air Force personnel load a Rapid Dragon deployment system onto an MC-130J aircraft ahead of an airdrop. Photo: US Air Force

The demonstration confirmed a faster and more flexible option for delivering precision munition capabilities using medium-sized or larger aircraft.

“It’s really easily exportable to our partners and allies around the globe that may want to increase the utility of their air force,” Commander Lt. Gen. Jim Slife said.

“When you look at partner capability, we have a lot of partners around the globe that don’t have heavy bomber-type platforms that would be traditional carriers of those types of munitions, but they’ve got plenty of C-130s proliferated around the world.”

Specializing in Large Bomber Aircraft

The air force said that over 40 countries utilize the C-130 Hercules, with the US Air Force as the only service to demonstrate the system with the long-palletized missile system.

“An MC-130J is the perfect aircraft for this capability because we can land and operate from a 3,000-foot highway and austere landing zones whereas a bomber cannot,” explained Lt. Col. Valerie Knight, Commander of the 352nd Special Operations Wing.

“After the successful execution of this airdrop, we have now proven we can employ the same weapons system — creating a dilemma for our adversaries.”

“Thanks to the assistance of our Norwegian allies, our integration into this exercise has been seamless,” 137th Special Operations Wing Combat Systems Officer Maj. Murray Ludwig added. “We were able to demonstrate that our wing can provide top-tier ISR support and a wide array of sustainment capabilities for our joint partners.” 

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