Expanding Mission Capabilities: With Boeing’s New REVOLVER System, C-17 Can Transform into Hypersonic Missiles Carrier  

Defence Industry

 

New Delhi: With the unveiling of innovative REVOLVER launcher system by Boeing, it is expected to transform the C-17 Globemaster III into a formidable hypersonic missile carrier. This advanced launcher is a game-changer and features two sequentially installed drums and an electromagnetic catapult mechanism, allowing the rapid launch of up to 12 Boeing X-51A Waverider hypersonic cruise missiles. Its design ensures precise and speedy deployment of each missile, enhancing the US’ aerial strike capabilities.

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Nicknamed ‘Buddha’, the C-17 Globemaster III with its robust appearance is the second-largest aircraft in the US Air Force fleet after the C-5M Super Galaxy. It is capable of transporting 102 paratroopers, 54 medical patients, or 85 tons of cargo, including tanks, it operates with a crew of three and can fly directly from the US to virtually any global destination with mid-air refuelling. The versatile military transport aircraft excels in troop deployment, medical evacuation, and cargo transport.

The C-17 with a payload capacity of around 172,000 pounds (78,000 kg) and a range of 2765 miles (4,450 km), is essential for global military operations. Its capability to integrate advanced systems like the REVOLVER launcher enhances its role in modern military logistics. The release of virtual images and videos of the REVOLVER launcher system by Boeing, showcases its potential despite not yet being integrated into the C-17 Globemaster III. It offers a preview of the system’s capability to rapidly deploy hypersonic missiles and its potential impact on aerial combat.

Enabling precise long-distance strikes, the deployment of the X-51A, a hypersonic cruise missile that operates at speeds exceeding Mach 5 with a scramjet engine with the system will be a game changer. The future integration and testing of the REVOLVER launcher and X-51A Waverider on the C-17 platform will highlight advancements in military capabilities. It promises to improve operations with rapid, high-speed missile deployment and set new standards in defence.

Earlier this year in March, the US Air Force tested a hypersonic cruise missile in the Pacific for the first time, seen as a signal to China that Washington remains competitive in a weapons arena where Beijing is perceived to have an advantage. On March 17, a B-52 bomber from Andersen Air Force Base on Guam launched “a full prototype operational hypersonic missile,” confirmed an Air Force spokesperson in a statement to CNN.

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Travelling faster than Mach 5, approximately 4,000 miles per hour, Hypersonic glide vehicles make detection and interception challenging. They also manoeuvre and change altitude, evading current missile defence systems. US officials have acknowledged China and Russia’s aggressive stance in hypersonic development. According to the non-partisan lobbying group Missile Defence Advocacy Alliance, China has been testing hypersonic glide vehicles capable of carrying nuclear and conventional warheads since 2014.