Weapon Systems

Rapid Dragon empowers US, allies with game-changing munitions delivery


The palletized munitions system allows US and NATO forces a flexible rapid response option for use with cargo aircraft.

Share this article

Rapid Dragon Operational Prototype, which was integrated on a US Marine Corps KC-130. Shown is a heterogeneous loadout flight test from a demonstration in April 2023. [Courtesy of Air Force Research Laboratory]
Rapid Dragon Operational Prototype, which was integrated on a US Marine Corps KC-130. Shown is a heterogeneous loadout flight test from a demonstration in April 2023. [Courtesy of Air Force Research Laboratory]

The US military's Rapid Dragon palletized munition system will let the United States integrate its capabilities with those of foreign partners and allies, while serving as a strong deterrent.

Rapid Dragon is a disposable weapon module that can turn practically any cargo plane into an attack aircraft, needing fairly limited modifications at a reduced cost.

The system allows US and NATO forces a flexible rapid response.

The module -- a "deployment box" -- is airdropped to deploy flying munitions such as the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) from an unmodified cargo plane like a C-130 or C-17.

Each box can carry up to six missiles and is stabilized by parachutes shortly after the Rapid Dragon system is deployed into the target area.

One of the key advantages of the JASSM, a low-observable standoff air-launched cruise missile, is its standoff capability, which allows it to strike targets from a safe distance without exposing the launching aircraft to enemy defenses.

Future development on the Rapid Dragon will generalize the system beyond the JASSM to include Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bombs, another cost-effective adaptation, as well as sea mines, drones and other missile systems, according to the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

'Infinite amount of dilemmas'

Rapid Dragon has been used with C-130 and C-17 cargo planes to strike both land and sea targets with JASSMs.

The system increases the number of places that cruise missile-carrying aircraft can deploy from. While a B-52 Stratofortress requires a 3,000-meter concrete runway to take off and land, a C-130 can operate from 910-meter stretches of less developed surfaces.

Rapid Dragon was first demonstrated on November 9, 2022, over Norway by the US Air Force and US Special Operations Command-Europe.

The Air Force's Air Mobility Command (AMC) successfully tested the pallet system last year as part of its Mobility Guardian 2023 exercise across the Pacific, Aviation Week reported last July.

The command wants to include the system in all of its planning, AMC Commander Gen. Mike Minihan told Aerospace Daily.

"Now the adversary has an infinitely higher problem to worry about. [They] don't need to worry just about the bombers; [they] have to worry about this C-130 and every other C-130 on the planet," Minihan said.

"C-130s can do it. All of our partners and allies fly them, so you can give the adversary an infinite amount of dilemmas ... to worry about."

C-17s are flown by multiple other allies as well.

Do you like this article?

Captcha *


Shame on you to treat us like this and interrupt our reading.




Muhsin al-Zeqred


Allah Almighty said, “He has taught man that which he knew not.” Allah Almighty has spoken the truth. If Allah has endowed some people with knowledge, that knowledge must be used for serving humanity rather than destroying it, seizing its land and wealth, like the terrorist America did with the Red Indians. It has killed them and seized their land. It has brought together all the criminals and bandits from Europe and seized the land. The criminal US administration is now supplying the criminal Zionist entity with internationally-banned weapons to hit the unarmed Palestinian people and repeat what America had done with the Red Indians. The colonial England had given the Jews the land of Palestine after deceiving and cheating the peaceful Palestinian Arabs. It is as if that he who didn’t own gave something to he that who didn’t deserve. Do you understand the meaning of this sentence? If you understand what I write, you’ll commit suicide. However, I think you neither understand nor feel. Do you know why? It’s because your blood is cold like snakes. You’re devoid of feelings; otherwise you wouldn’t have done what you did to the Gaza of pride. If you feel what I write, you won’t delete my comment which I write on every post you publish. However, your feeling of weakness despite the force of weapons you’re talking about makes you delete my own comment. I don’t care whether the comment is there or not. All that matters to me is to have my comment reach you. What really


The programme is beautiful.


I like it!