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Rapid Dragon demonstrates BLOS command and control of Palletized Weapon System

The US Air Force (USAF) Rapid Dragon Experimentation Program, in association with Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) and US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Det 1, has successfully demonstrated beyond line of sight (BLOS) command-and-control (C2) of an AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER)-equipped Palletized Weapon System from an AFSOC MC-130J Commando II multi-mission combat transport aircraft.

The demonstration was conducted during the US Indo-Pacific Command's exercise Northern Edge 21 (NE21), at the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, the Gulf of Alaska on 3–14 May.

The Rapid Dragon Program, previously designated the Palletized Munitions Program, is an accelerated research campaign led by the Air Force Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation Office (SDPE), part of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), to assess the operational utility of delivering large volumes of palletized long-range strike weapons from military cargo aircraft. The SDPE Office supports air force development planning efforts by examining the operational utility of emerging technologies and potential operational concepts through experimentation and demonstration efforts.

Rapid Dragon advances a roll-on/off capability that uses standard airdrop procedures without modification to the aircraft, transforming combat transport aircraft into lethal strike weapon platforms that complement or augment the strike capacity of tactical fighters and strategic bombers. In an earlier test of an instrumented JASSM-ER Palletized Weapon System at White Sands Missile Range in March, the SDPE used the Mills Manufacturing G-11 Cargo Parachute Assembly to establish a new, undisclosed deployment altitude deployment record for the Rapid Dragon programme.

A high altitude airdrop of palletised munitions (JASSM simulants) from a C-17 using standard operational airdrop procedures is conducted during the USAF's Advanced Battle Management Family of Systems (ABMS) Onramp #2 exercise in September 2020 (US Air Force)

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