US Air Force could turn transport planes into bombers, and more

Last week, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the Air Force Special Operations Command jointly unveiled having carried out between January and February several tests of cruise missiles from the rear ramp of C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster III cargo planes. These tests are part of in the long run of US Air Force programs aimed at providing its transport aircraft with a secondary precision bombing capacity.

For this flight test campaign, the US Air Force would have used demonstrators of at least one new type of weaponry, the CLEAVER (Cargo Launch Expendable Air Vehicles with Extended Range - Consumable air vehicles of long endurance launched from a cargo plane). Demonstrating a certain form of technological maturity, the CLEAVER concept could quickly give rise to an operational weapon system making it possible to transform Air Mobility Command planes (the USAF command in charge of transport planes) into booster bombers. But the CLEAVER, or an equivalent system, could offer cargo planes unprecedented intelligence, electronic warfare and escort capabilities.

Two CLEAVER ammunition demonstrators on a pallet as it drops from an MC-130J. Details on the weapon's capabilities and how it is deployed have yet to be released.

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