Polish C-130 with Rapid Dragon system. US exercises and a signal to the Kremlin | News from the world
It is called Rapid Dragon and it is a simple yet innovative creation of military aviation USA (USAF) and Lockheed Martin. Work on it began in 2020, and in the current one, limited production and implementation for use began.
Long-range rocket palletization
Rapid Dragon is essentially a transport pallet for long range maneuvering missiles that can be ejected from the plane transport in flight. Just like any other load on a pallet adapted to be dropped under a parachute. Only, instead of landing with rockets on the ground, the Rapid Dragon releases them in flight, and they unfold their wings, start the engines, and begin a normal impact mission. As if the standard fired them plane combat rather than dropped slow transport.
For now, Rapid Dragon is adapted to the JASSM family maneuvering missiles. Those marked with the letters ER (Extended Range) have a range of about a thousand kilometers. This means that an unarmed transport plane can safely drop them at a safe distance from the potential enemy air defense. And even several dozen in series, if heavy transporters like the C-17 are used.
Due to this simple idea, the Americans are able to turn a fleet of ordinary transport aircraft into a substitute for a fleet of strategic bombers. At the same time, they are much cheaper to operate and can take off from much smaller bases, and even from bare ground. Only benefits.
Animation showing in detail the use of the Rapid Dragon system
Poles as an element of the threat to the Kremlin
But why do Americans practice handing over this very new equipment to Poles? And they still boast about it on the web? – I suppose that this may be a subtle element of strategic communication to Russia – says in an interview with Gazeta.pl Dawid Kamizela, journalist of the monthly “Nowa Technika Wojskowa” and a member of “Team Wolski”.
– The Americans show that they are able to easily find carriers in Europe for even several hundred cruise missiles. Regardless of, for example, some crisis in the Pacific, which will require the concentration of a fleet of strategic bombers there – he explains. The recording from Powidz can therefore be treated as a message for the Kremlin, so that it does not expect the Americans and, more broadly, NATO to lack the potential in Europe to launch a massive missile strike.
Loading the Rapid Dragon into the Polish C-130 is part of the Atreus exercises, in which Poles and American special forces are apparently participating, among others. Their command in Europe has been publishing scant information for several days, which can be considered a whole series of signals directed at the Russians. The Americans are apparently practicing quickly shifting systems to Europe that enable them to attack due distances. Including Rapid Dragon pallets and HIMARS launchers, carried on C-130 transporters. This is generally referred to as the HIRAN exercise or program that officially runs from the end of 2020. From May 2022, it is to focus on “training partners in the use of palletized systems”, which probably means that the Americans have been teaching their European allies how to use the Rapid Dragon system for almost half a year. According to one of the American infographics, Polish airmen were already trained in its use in May.
It follows that the Pentagon wants to be ready for accident the need for a massive attack on Russia. For anything else in Europe, you wouldn’t need multiple crews capable of using Rapid Dragon pods. The use of transporters to launch cruise missiles will allow the release of numerous combat planes for other tasks. For example, the Polish F-16s are capable of carrying two JASSM-ER missiles. One C-130 even eight in two pallets. So one C-130 flight can release four F-16s for other tasks, such as fighting other planes or hunting enemy anti-aircraft systems. Pure profit at low cost.
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