During the exercise, a Lockheed MC-130 aircraft parachuted an AGM-158 JASSM cruise missile using the experimental Rapid Dragon palletized munitions system.
US special operations forces launched a long-range missile from a carrier aircraft using its experimental Rapid Dragon palletized munitions system in the Arctic on Wednesday .
#BREAKING video from 352nd Special Operations Wing successful test fire of a palletized Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM). Successful extraction of deployment box, release of JASSM with wing extension, and motor engagement during exercise #ATREUS22 #SOFinEurope pic.twitter.com/3hLcXDJ3bl
— US Spec Ops Europe (@US_SOCEUR) November 9, 2022
During the exercise, a Lockheed MC-130 military transport aircraft parachuted an AGM-158 JASSM cruise missile into the arctic circle area at the Andoya launch site in Norway, marking the first time the Rapid Dragon system is used in Europe.
“[The test] puts this within reach of Russia . We are intentionally trying to be provocative without being escalatory . We are trying to deter Russian aggression , expansionist behavior, showing enhanced allied capabilities,” Lawrence Melnicoff, a lieutenant colonel at the US Special Operations Command in Europe, to the Stars and Stripes military portal.
The high-ranking officer stressed that the idea of the trial lies in checking the group’s capabilities in the event of a possible attack by Russia against the NATO allies’ operation centers.
“It complicates the decision making of the Russians, because we know that they are targeting very, very large specific groupings […] like Ramstein air base [in Germany], the British Royal Air Force Lakenheath air base, things like that” , he claimed.
“We are able to survive . In the worst case, if someone destroys these centers of force, we can project precision artillery fire through the alliance with our partners,” he added.
Testing of the Rapid Dragon system coincided with drills in Poland and Romania . Likewise, similar missions were carried out in the Baltic Sea region with the participation of aircraft equipped with high-mobility missile launchers that are transported to the landing zone and unloaded to carry out rapid attacks, reports the media.
The US Armed Forces introduced the Rapid Dragon concept in 2016, based on ammunition mounted on a platform that is launched from different types of aircraft, including transport.
The planes are loaded with platforms that house several cruise missiles on pallets . Once launched from aircraft that are far away from attack targets, the platforms unleash a diverse kit of projectiles that are activated and directed towards their targets.
The first launch tests of these platforms with a payload mimicking AGM-158 JASSM cruise missiles took place in January 2020 from C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globenaster freighters.