The U.S. Air Power Speedy Dragon Program, a fast-paced experimentation marketing campaign led by the Air Power Strategic Improvement Planning and Experimentation workplace, accomplished its last flight take a look at on Dec. 16 on the Eglin Overwater Check Vary. This system identify is derived from a 1,000-year-old Chinese language military-designed crossbow catapult that launched a number of crossbow bolts with the pull of a single set off, raining destruction down on armies from super ranges. These deadly units had been referred to as Ji Lengthy Che—Speedy Dragon Carts. Right now, the Speedy Dragon idea is altering the sport once more, this time as an airborne supply system for U.S. Air Power weapons. And like its namesake, these palletized munitions promise to unleash mighty salvos en masse on distant adversaries. The flight take a look at captioned a two-year sequence and culminated in a live-fire of a present stock cruise missile armed with a reside warhead. Speedy Dragon demonstrates the power to make use of weapons utilizing customary airdrop procedures from cargo plane utilizing the Speedy Dragon Palletized Weapon System.

U.S. Air Power personnel load a Speedy Dragon deployment system onto an MC-130J plane forward of an airdrop. Speedy Dragon is suitable with customary airlift stock techniques and gives a roll-on, roll-off functionality with no plane modifications. (Photograph by U.S. Air Power Analysis Laboratory )

Through the December take a look at, and MC-130J flown by an Air Power Particular Operations Command operational flight crew, acquired new concentrating on information whereas in flight which was then routed to the cruise missile flight take a look at car. The plane agnostic Battle Administration System’s inflight receipt and add of the brand new concentrating on information into the FTV was the first-time achievement with a reside cruise missile. As soon as contained in the drop zone over the Gulf of Mexico, the MC-130J aircrew airdropped a four-cell Speedy Dragon deployment system containing the FTV and three mass simulants, which had been sequentially launched from the palletized deployment field whereas beneath the parachute. Protected separation from the deployment field and weapon deconfliction had been demonstrated utilizing an unconventional deployment methodology (nose-down vertical orientation). Instantly after the vertical launch, the FTV deployed its wings and tail, achieved aerodynamic management, ignited its engine, carried out a powered pull-up maneuver, and proceeded towards its newly assigned goal. The cruise missile efficiently destroyed its goal upon affect.


US Air Force Rapid Dragon Conducts First System-level Demonstration of Palletized Munitions
A typical cargo airdrop of the Palletized Munition Deployment System from an plane. A 4-pack configuration is used for demonstration functions. (Photograph by U.S. Air Power Analysis Laboratory )

“Speedy Dragon is a main instance of a authorities/trade partnership that embraces this acceleration mindset, constructing a group of material consultants and executing an aggressive, however well-thought-out, experimentation marketing campaign,” stated Dr. Dean Evans, SDPE’s Speedy Dragon Program Supervisor.

“This sort of experimentation marketing campaign, that addresses functionality gaps and demonstrates transformative efforts, helps us form future necessities and reduces timeline to fielding. This method in the end permits a fast fielding various to conventional prolonged acquisition timelines,” stated Maj. Gen. Heather Pringle, Air Power Analysis Laboratory commander.

US Air Force Rapid Dragon Conducts First System-level Demonstration of Palletized Munitions
An airdropped Palletized Munition Deployment System carrying a manufacturing lengthy vary cruise missile STV and three mass simulants. The picture exhibits a cruise missile within the Deployment Field instantly after being airdropped from an MC-130J. (Photograph by U.S. Air Power Analysis Laboratory )

The following step for the Speedy Dragon Program might be a live-fire take a look at with a cruise missile from a C-17 in Spring 2022, demonstrating the plane agnostic capabilities of the Palletized Weapon System. Of observe, the brand new retargeting methodology developed by the Speedy Dragon staff is designed to be transferrable to different strike and cargo platforms, doubtlessly rising the lethality of these plane. Lastly, a follow-on program will have a look at increasing the Speedy Dragon carriage portfolio to incorporate extra weapon techniques and a number of results capabilities, in addition to persevering with the maturation of the system, taking it from a developmental prototype to an operational prototype over the following two years. Agility and collaboration enabled this authorities/trade staff to go from a design to a system-level flight take a look at in 10 months, adopted by a live-fire 5 months later. Throughout these final 5 months, Speedy Dragon has carried out 5 system-level flight checks utilizing three totally different plane (MC-130J, EC-130SJ, and C-17A). The profitable Speedy Dragon experiments pave the way in which for U.S. and allied mobility platforms to dramatically improve fires obtainable for a combatant commander to position extra adversary targets in danger.

US Air Force Rapid Dragon Conducts First System-level Demonstration of Palletized Munitions
As soon as the Palletized Munition Deployment System was stabilized beneath the parachutes, the manufacturing lengthy vary cruise missile STV and mass simulants had been launched sequentially, timed for protected separation between munitions. The picture exhibits a profitable separation of a STV from the sabot following the weapon launch, adopted by the deployment of the STV’s management surfaces (wings and tail). (Photograph by U.S. Air Power Analysis Laboratory )