MBDA’s Meteor air dominance missile achieves major successes


The MBDA-led Meteor team has recently achieved further successes in the development of the six-nation air dominance missile. Two major events were the successful Control and Dispersion (CD) firing on the 22nd May and the Customer agreement that the Seeker Air Carry and Hardware in the Loop trials demonstrates performance in clutter and Electronic Counter Measures.

Over the past year the Meteor missile has undergone extensive flight trials. Several missile firings, air carry trials of the seeker in various conditions with wide ranging ground trials covering Hardware in the Loop testing to Reliability Growth trials have been completed successfully. This has enabled key aspects of the programme to be demonstrated:

Flight demonstration of motor boost to sustain transition and subsequent sustain motor operation using the air-breathing ramjet propulsion system.

Control of the asymmetric airframe through flight trials and operation with the novel missile control algorithms.

Air carriage demonstration of the effectiveness of the missile/aircraft transfer alignment process. This process ensures that the missile knows where it is at launch.

Extensive air carry and ground trials in 2006/7 demonstrating the key missile Electronic Counter Measures performance and seeker performance in clutter.

More recently on 22nd May 2007, a Control & Dispersion firing of METEOR was conducted from a Saab Gripen aircraft at the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) Hebrides missile firing range. This was the first firing of METEOR in the UK and was conducted to test the performance of the missile’s integrated boost, ramjet sustain motor and control systems during high altitude supersonic launch. The missile was tested in extended free flight and carried out extensive manoeuvres that further proved the advanced bank while turn control algorithms developed for this high performance weapon.

Meteor represents Europe’s next generation Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) and will replace the AMRAAM AIM-120 series of missiles. Entry into service is planned for 2013 from which point Meteor will provide the air forces of the six partner nations with a step-change in capability. Meteor will have over three times the performance of current medium range weapons giving the programme partners a quantum leap in combat capability and air dominance.

The missile features a unique, solid fuel throttleable ducted rocket, often referred to as a Ramjet, as the main propulsion system. This allows the missile to maintain a high speed all the way to the target making it impossible for the target to escape. Meteor’s high speed and increased range will ensure that the launch aircraft can remain safe from interception.

MBDA has also been providing future Meteor operators with experience of the missile’s performance through the use of its FOX aircraft and missile simulation system.  This has enabled aircrew to test future combat scenarios in a real-time environment and develop operational tactics.

Commenting on these events MBDA’s new CEO, Antoine Bouvier, said: “Meteor is a real-time success story for MBDA in leading complex multinational missile programmes.  Now over four years into a demanding development programme MBDA has demonstrated, through the successful firing programme and the accomplishment of these major performance achievements, the technical excellence and timely programme management necessary to deliver Meteor and missile systems of the future.  MBDA is now looking forward to the production contracts from the European partner nations as well as export opportunities around the world”.

These latest successes follow on from last year’s successful Air Launched Demonstrator firings and also recent Data Gathering and Electronic Protection Measure (EPM) data gathering trials in both Sweden and the UK. Additionally, development of Meteor with the candidate aircraft has continued with the main development firings continuing with Gripen; on Eurofighter Typhoon completion of subscale wind tunnel testing and the first Environmental Data Gathering (EDG) flights and on Rafale successful undertaking of eject launch jettison trials.