Meteor Missile Hits its Target.
The second 'active seeker' firing of the Meteor Missile, which is being developed for the Typhoon jet plane, has taken place over Sweden, where the Meteor successfully hit its drone target.
The Meteor, a Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM), is the long range weapon of choice for the Typhoon and will offer greater speed and manoeuvrability than other variants.
The recent firing at the Vidsel Missile Test Range in Sweden follows previous successful trials undertaken in the UK and Sweden and is another significant event in the development of the missile.
The MOD's BVRAAM Integrated Project Team (IPT) was set up in response to the UK's requirement to develop a Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile capability for the RAF's Eurofighter Typhoon. The programme was subsequently joined by Germany, Italy, Spain, France and Sweden who had similar BVRAAM requirements.
Bringing into service a new generation missile system in itself is not unusual but Meteor is different. It features a unique solid fuel throttleable ducted rocket, often referred to as a ramjet, as the main propulsion system. Designed in Germany by Bayern Chemie, this new propulsion system allows the missile to maintain a very high speed all the way to the target, giving increased stand-off and disengagement ranges and better ability to chase and destroy highly agile manoeuvring targets.
Meteor will provide the six nations with the capability to sustain air superiority and combat future projected air-to-air threats. Other key features of the missile include stealthy launch, and robust performance against countermeasures.
The recent second 'active seeking' firing was carried out from a Swedish Air Force SAAB Gripen aircraft against a MQM-107B 'Streaker' high-subsonic subscale aerial target.
The missile was rail-launched (i.e. fired straight forward from underneath the aircraft) from the Gripen flying at 0.9 Mach and at an altitude of 18,000ft (5,500m). Following the boost phase the missile successfully transitioned to its ramjet operation and accelerated to its operational speed. The seeker then acquired the target and tracked it through to intercept. During the flight the missile's data link successfully demonstrated communication between the missile and the firing aircraft.
This test firing concludes a series of development firings to prove the overall key phase of the development programme for the missile and its various subsystems in terms of guidance, propulsion, data link and fuse.
Julian Knight, BVRAAM IPT Leader, said:
"I am pleased and proud that all the hard work of the six partner nation customer and industrial communities has delivered such an outcome. Coming relatively early in such a complex programme it allows us to take the major step to the pre-production missile standard with high confidence."
The MOD's BVRAAM IPT hosts the Meteor International Joint Programme Office (MIJPO), which is responsible to the six partner nations for the management of the Meteor programme on their behalf.
The contract for Meteor was placed with MBDA UK Ltd in December 2002 to develop a Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile for the Typhoon (UK, Italy, Germany and Spain), Gripen (Sweden), and Rafale (France) aircraft, equipping the nations with a world class capability against future threats.
A series of further firings, aimed to prove the missile's capabilities and design are planned towards the end of 2008 and will continue progressively through to the end of the development programme in late 2011.
Image 1: (Larger size) The Meteor Missile as seen from the back of its 'drone' target.
Image 2: (Larger size) Meteor being carried by a Typhoon.