The US Air Force is one more step towards implementing a revolutionary capability that will ensure its superiority in combat – the recent live fire test that concluded the flight demonstrations of this revolutionary program confirmed that cargo planes USAF are now officially deadlier, capable of destroying multiple targets.
One way to increase firepower during combat, so that you can engage multiple enemy targets, is to increase the lethality of cargo planes. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) coordinated the ambitious project called Rapid Dragon. It was the name of an ancient Chinese military crossbow catapult that could launch multiple bolts with a single pull of the trigger.
Likewise, this modern airborne weapons launch system allows missiles to be released from a cargo plane into a palletized deployment box under a parachute.
The program was developed in record time, going from concept to the first flight test in just ten months. The first live fire demonstration, recently carried out, was a successful outcome. For the first time, an MC-130J received in-flight targeting data and sent it to the live cruise missile (a test version).
The Rapid Dragon deployment system was then dropped onto a specific area of ââthe Gulf of Mexico with a parachute. The missile safely separated from the box, spread its wings and tail, cranked its engine, then headed straight for the target, which was destroyed on impact.
The powerful MC-130J is a multi-mission tanker that can carry up to 42,000 lbs (19,000 kg) of cargo at an altitude of 28,000 feet (8,534 m). G-11 parachutes, typically used for cargo deployment, were first used in ammunition drop operations during this program. But the MC-130J won’t be the only one deploying the Rapid Dragon system. Next spring, a new live fire test will be carried out by a C-17 to prove the system’s compatibility with any aircraft.
The goal is to make this capability available for multiple cargo platforms, as well as add various other weapon systems that can be deployed using this method. AFRL hopes to unveil the operational prototype within the next two years. This modern Rapid Dragon is ready to transform the lethality of the USAF fleet.