US special operations forces on Wednesday dropped a long-range missile out of a C-130 transport plane in Arctic Circle in what a US military officer described as an “intentional provocation” toward Russia.
“It puts this thing within range of Russia. We are intentionally trying to be provocative without being escalatory,” Lt. Col. Lawrence Melnicoff, the head of US Special Operations Command Europe, told Stars and Stripes ahead of the launch.
The missile was dropped off the coast of Norway in the Norwegian Sea near the Andoya Space Center. It marked the first test of a new program known as Rapid Dragon, a palletized munition system that was created to use standard airdrop procedures using air-to-surface missiles.
The missile drop comes as tensions are soaring between the US and Russia over Ukraine. President Biden recently warned that the risk of nuclear “armageddon” is at its highest point since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, yet the US provocations against Russia continue.
The missile test coincided with drills that are being held in Poland and Romania that are part of Atreus, a program launched by US European Command that explores new military options for the US and its allies. The drills are preparations for any potential future conflict with Russia in Europe.
While some of the US’s allies don’t have long-range bombers, they could use the Rapid Dragon program to make up for the lack of the capability. According to Stars and Stripes, similar drills have been held under Atreus in the Baltics and Romania that have involved flying High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to different areas to offload them for quick-strike targeting.