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Air Force Demos Palletized Cruise Missile Launch From Lockheed-Built Aircraft

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The U.S. Air Force released a long-range cruise missile test article from a Lockheed Martin-built transport and special operations tanker aircraft using a palletized weapons deployment system as part of the service branch’s Rapid Dragon experimentation program.

The flight test at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico sought to demonstrate the feasibility of conducting standoff munition delivery operations through airdrop approach and using a transport plane as a lethal strike platform, the Air Force Research Laboratory said Monday.

AFRL noted that the cruise missile separation test vehicle was able to perform aerodynamic control and pull-up maneuvers while moving toward its target, just seconds after the system launched from the four-cell deployer unit via Air Force Special Operations Command’s MC-130J aircraft.

The event saw the first time the missile’s onboard battle management system received and uploaded targeting data from a beyond-line-of-sight command and control node, moving away from previous practices of using an emulator.

Lockheed’s missiles and fire control business, Systima Technologies, Safran Electronics & Defense and Parachutes USA participated in the demo.