OSLO ($1=10.14 Norwegian Krones) — On November 8, BulgarianMilitary.com reported that a military transport aircraft would launch the Rapid Dragon system. This test is part of an ongoing exercise off the coast of northern Norway. The test was conducted on November 9 by the U.S. Air Force. Special Operations Command Europe [SOCEUR].
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A C-130 Hercules flies somewhere over the North Sea. It opens the rear cargo bay and lowers the palletized Rapid Dragon missile system. Four parachutes deploy seamlessly and slow the fall of the palletized weapon system. Next comes the release of the AGM-158 JASSM cruise missile. The front wings unfold, the rocket’s propulsion motor turns on, and it takes off on a pre-determined route.
The test is successful. The Rapid Dragon has gone through several tests in recent years, but this is the first during actual combat exercises. Just days ago, SOCEUR announced that the test was not aimed at provocation with Russia, nor with any other enemy country.
This statement by SOCEUR was intended to indicate to Moscow that the Rapid Dragon will not enter the air defense area of the S-300 and S-400 systems. They are located extremely close to the exercises being conducted – the Kola Peninsula. Russia has key submarine maintenance bases there.
The test is key for NATO allies. The Rapid Dragon can provide quick and timely air support to any ally because it is mobile and can be quickly transported by cargo warplanes. The missile system can be loaded with any known cruise missile of Western design. Also, the course of the rocket can be changed in flight. Once launched, the Rapid Dragon can decide to release all missiles at once, or one after the other.
Last but not least, up to 45 missiles in Rapid Dragon missile systems can be carried on a cargo plane. In one of the latest Rapid Dragon tests, the AGM-158 JASSM cruise missile reached a target 925 km away.
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