The Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) has partnered with the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to release simulated palletised munitions in three airdrops at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, US.
Under the Phase I operational demonstration, airdrops were conducted from an MC-130J Commando II, a multi-mission, special operations tanker.
The airdrops mark a milestone in delivering a large volume of air-launched weapons at the same time.
Deployed through a roller system, the munitions were stacked upon Combat Expendable Platforms (CEP).
MC-130J Commando II was used for the mission as its cargo area supports the release of multiple large munitions.
AFSOC aircrew released five CEP rigged with six simulated munitions, including four Cargo Launch Expendable Air Vehicles with Extended Range (CLEAVER) from low and high-altitude airdrops.
These long-range, high-precision weapons destroy moving and non-moving targets.
Once completed, all three airdrops were reported successful.
US AFRL Munitions Directorate director Colonel Garry Haase said: “This successful (demo) is evidence of our commitment to evolve innovative weapons concepts and enhance our partnership with AFSOC to meet the needs of the National Defense Strategy.
“CLEAVER represents a different approach to launching large numbers of long-range weapons, which will bring a new dynamic to the high-end fight.”
These weapons have advanced the airforce’s palletised munition experimentation effort.
Initiated by AFRL’s Center for Rapid Innovation, the CLEAVER is led by programme managers from AFRL’s Munitions Directorate at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB).
Once the collaborative team was assembled, the CRI developed the prototype CLEAVER.
To conduct the Phase I demonstration, an AFSOC 27th Special Operations Wing MC-130J aircraft flew along with Air National Guard 137th SOW MC-12W Liberty chase aircraft.
The aircraft flew from Salt Lake City International Airport to the range from Hill AFB.
During three airdrops, the turbo prop plane captured real-time observations through photos and video.
In Phase II demonstrations, US AFRL’s Munitions Directorate will provide vehicles and SMEs.
During future demonstrations, AFSOC will release CLEAVER glider vehicles, powered vehicles and full-up vehicles with optional Warhead and terminal guidance.