Integration of the MBDA Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) onto Europe's fighter aircraft has stepped up a gear with the announcements towards the end of April of three major milestones within a few days of each other.
With the 100+ km BVRAAM missile already operational and fielded on the Swedish Air Force's Saab JAS 39 Gripen C fighters, it was disclosed by the French defence procurement agency (Direction Générale de l'Armement: DGA) on 26 April that integration flight trials aboard the Dassault Rafale had been completed. This came on the same day as Eurofighter announced the first simultaneous launch of two missiles from a Spanish Air Force Typhoon, and the announcement on 21 April of a UK contract to integrate the missile onto the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).
For the French Rafale test, which was actually conducted on 6 April, a Meteor was fired at range against a high-speed Mirach target drone in an event that marked the completion of integration trial firings that had run since 28 April 2015. As noted by the DGA, the Meteor will become operational on the Rafale F3R in 2018.
Eurofighter's announcement related to a trial geared at demonstrating engagements against multiple targets and the simultaneous two-way data link between two missiles and the aircraft. The test, involving Spanish Air Force Instrumented Production Aircraft (IPA) 4, took place over the UK's Hebrides Range, and followed six Meteor firings from the Typhoon in 2016. The Meteor is set to become operational on the Typhoon in 2018, under the Phase 2 Enhancements (P2E) package.
Both the Rafale and Typhoon firings were announced days after MBDA was awarded GBP41 million (USD53 million) top conduct further integration studies of the Meteor on board the F-35B for the Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Navy (RN).
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