The MBDA Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) is now operational aboard UK Royal Air Force (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 10 December.
According to the MoD, for the first time Meteor-armed Typhoons were scrambled from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland (QRA North) to intercept an unidentified aircraft that was approaching the UK area of interest. The Typhoons returned to base before the intercept was made.
With a speed of more than Mach 4 and a range in excess of 100 km, the Meteor has been described by industry and military officials as providing a step-change in air-to-air combat capabilities. Whereas similar-type missiles have a relatively short boost-phase after launch, after which they glide to the target while bleeding energy, the Meteorʼs ramjet means it is propelled up to the point of impact. This reduces the adversary aircraft's chances of escaping the missile and gives the pilot more assurance of success when engaging enemy aircraft.
The Meteor programme partners include France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. With the missile already integrated aboard the Saab Gripen C/D and Dassault Rafale, the RAF has become the first of the Eurofighter nations to employ it.
In July the RAF received back into service the first of its Typhoons to be provisioned for the Project Centurion weapons fit that includes the Meteor missile. The Project Centurion configuration is intended to combine the Typhoon's already-delivered Raytheon Paveway IV precision-guided bomb capability with the Meteor, Storm Shadow cruise missile, and Brimstone low-yield missile in time for the retirement from RAF service of the Panavia Tornado GR4 in early 2019. In all, 107 Tranche 2 and 3 Typhoons will be equipped to the Project Centurion standard, while the 24 Tranche 1 Typhoons that are to be retained will not.
Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options at ihsmarkit.com/janes