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Rapid Dragon completes flight demonstration

18th November 2021 - 18:00 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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U.S. Air Force personnel load a Rapid Dragon deployment system onto an MC-130J aircraft. (Photo: US Air Force)

The Rapid Dragon program is a fast-paced experimentation campaign led by the Air Force Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation.

The US Air Force Rapid Dragon program completed another successful flight demonstration on 3 November 2021.

The test demonstrated the deployment of a production long-range cruise missile separation test vehicle, a cruise missile without an engine and warhead, from the palletised weapons system.

While the aircraft was en-route to the White Sands Missile Range drop zone, the crew used a BLoS C2 node to receive new targeting data for the onboard battle management system, which was then uploaded to the palletised weapon.

This was a first-time achievement as all previous BLoS retargeting demonstrations sued a cruise missile emulator.

In addition to showcasing the utility of delivering stand-off munitions en masse via mobility aircraft, this demonstration repeated and validated several milestones.

It celebrated successful high-altitude airdrop using a modular Rapid Dragon deployment system, successful jettison of multiple weapons from the Rapid Dragon deployment system and weapon de-confliction through the clean separation of the STV and multiple cruise missile simulants.

This demonstration paves the way for the first deployment of a live long-range cruise missile underpowered flight from an AFSOC MC-130J.

The Rapid Dragon program is progressing from concept to powered flight/live fire within 24 months

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