Defense News
November 10, 2022

Watch this US Air Force cargo plane launch a cruise missile in Norway

The U.S. Air Force has for the first time in an overseas test used its Rapid Dragon system, in which cruise missiles on pallets are launched from the back of a mobility aircraft.

An MC-130J Commando II from the 352nd Special Operations Wing launched a Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range cruise missile using the system nicknamed “bomb bay in a box” in a range over the Norwegian Sea on Wednesday….

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“Now, less than three years from the program’s inception, Rapid Dragon is being used by [U.S. Special Operations Command Europe] in the Arctic Circle,” Evans said in a release. “This is a testament to the team’s focus on rapid fielding to meet warfighter needs.”

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The hurtling box sheds its deployment parachute and deploys a quartet of other parachutes that steady it. When the deployment box is vertical, it releases a JASSM-ER missile downward….

This was the first live-fire Rapid Dragon test since the Air Force destroyed a target in the Gulf of Mexico in December 2021, and the first time the concept was used outside of the continental United States, the Air Force Research Lab said.

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The Air Force hopes this concept will allow the U.S. and its allies to turn cargo aircraft into heavily armed bomb trucks that can engage enemies at a safe distance, giving combatant commanders more options to deliver firepower.

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This test was the seventh Atreus event, and in addition to Norway also included allies from the United Kingdom, Poland, and Romania.

Previous Atreus training events focused on using the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System along with allies from Romania, the U.K., Sweden and Latvia.

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