US Airmen Displaying Different Militaries How one can Drop Bombs From Cargo Planes


  • The US Air Pressure is in search of new methods to make use of its plane to make life more durable for adversaries.
  • One effort involving Air Pressure Particular Operations Command is modifying cargo planes to drop bombs.
  • Different air forces might simply deploy these weapons from their cargo planes, the pinnacle of AFSOC mentioned.

The US Air Pressure is creating new methods to make use of its plane so as to put together for a struggle towards a succesful opponent. A serious a part of that effort has been repurposing its largest plane, cargo planes and tankers, for different missions.

US Air Pressure Particular Operations Command has been working with different airmen and researchers to allow AFSOC’s workhorse cargo airplane, the MC-130J, to drop pallets of long-range cruise missiles.

MC-130Js and different US cargo planes can function from a larger vary of airfields than bombers, and enabling these airlifters to deploy long-range missiles is predicted to create extra work for an enemy.

“I feel an adversary has to take loads totally different take a look at the area in the case of the place can we venture energy from,” Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, the pinnacle of AFSOC, mentioned at an Air & House Forces Affiliation occasion on September 7.

It may also be adopted by allies and companions. “The wonder is that this functionality does not require any plane modifications and it does not require any particular crew coaching,” Slife added. “So it is actually simply exportable.”

Palletized munitions

Air Force Special Operations MC-130J palletized munition

US airmen load a Speedy Dragon palletized weapon system on an MC-130J at Hurlburt Discipline on December 13, 2021.

US Air Pressure/Workers Sgt. Brandon Esau


The Air Pressure has been considering find out how to deploy extra firepower with its current fleet for almost a decade. The thought has superior quickly over the previous two years in an initiative referred to as Speedy Dragon, involving MC-130Js and different airlifters.

The Air Pressure Analysis Laboratory, which has led the work, mentioned in 2020 that it had examined the so-called palletized-munition idea in January and February that 12 months by dropping wood pallets carrying simulated munitions from a C-17 and an MC-130J.

Checks in mid-2021 confirmed the viability of passing focusing on information to navy cargo planes, utilizing that information to program munitions on these planes, after which hitting targets with these munitions.

In a November check, an AFSOC crew on an MC-130J was capable of obtain focusing on information whereas in flight, move it to a simulation cruise missile loaded in a palletized munition, and drop the munition, which then deployed the missile.

In a culminating check in December, information for a goal within the Gulf of Mexico was handed to an MC-130J and loaded onto a dwell cruise missile, which was then dropped in a palletized-munitions container. The missile deployed and “efficiently destroyed its goal,” the Air Pressure Analysis Lab mentioned.

The December check concerned a Joint Air-to-Floor Standoff Missile-Prolonged Vary, which has a spread of about 600 miles, however AFSOC is utilizing different weaponry in an analogous method, Slife mentioned.

MC-130J palletized munition cruise missile

A simulated cruise missile deploys its wings and tail after separating from the palletized-munition container throughout a November 2021 check.

US Air Pressure Analysis Laboratory


The check demonstrated what Slife described as potential “quantity of fireplace” and focusing on challenges for adversaries. “If you happen to can take a C-130 and allow that to be a supply platform for a dozen long-range standoff precision munitions, this is similar payload {that a} B-52 has.”

With a C-130 working from a 3,000-foot airstrip, “you may have a long-range fires platform that carries the identical payload as a B-52,” Slife mentioned. “A C-17, which does not require way more than 3,000 ft of filth strip, can carry 36 palletized long-range munitions.”

With the ability to function from extra airfields creates extra work for enemies looking for these plane — a dilemma the Air Pressure is making an attempt to use by increasing the variety of bases its plane can use.

“It is not arduous to determine the place all the ten,000-feet concrete runways within the Pacific are, however whenever you’re making an attempt to determine the place the three,000-feet straight stretches of highway and grass strips are,” Slife added, “that is a special focusing on drawback in your adversaries.”

Dozens of militaries function C-130s, C-17s, or different airlifters, and the benefit with which they may use palletized munitions has what Slife known as a “multiplying impact.”

“We have had numerous requests from across the globe from companions to really display this functionality, to assist them combine that functionality onto their plane,” Slife added. “We did an iteration of that within the spring. We’ll do one other one within the fall.”

Capabilities and dilemmas

AFSOC MC-130J Commando II float amphibious plane rendering

A rendering of an MC-130J with a twin-float amphibious modification.

US Air Pressure Particular Operations Command


AFSOC is trying so as to add different capabilities to its MC-130s as properly. Slife mentioned the command is making progress on “a field-installable” amphibious modification that might permit planes to function on land and water.

The design is full and being examined in a wave tank, and the command goals to begin integrating it on plane in 2023.

“We ran by a sequence of testing to determine will we need to do a catamaran, a pontoon, a hull appliqué on the underside of the plane,” Slife mentioned, with out specifying which was chosen. “We settled on a design that gives the most effective trade-off of drag, weight, sea-state efficiency, all these varieties of issues.”

Palletized munitions and the amphibious modification each replicate AFSOC’s curiosity in “the unconventional use of the platforms that we now have obtainable” to extend its choices and problem its rivals, Slife mentioned.

“If you happen to had been going to construct an amphibious airplane, you in all probability would not begin with a C-130, however the C-130 is the ingredient that we have got within the cabinet,” Slife mentioned. “We have got a fairly compelling digital design that is going to provide us the flexibility to show any giant physique of water right into a touchdown zone the place we will insert [and] extract special-operations forces and tools and different issues that may trigger dilemmas for our adversaries.”



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