On 28th April 2015, teams from the French Ministry of Defence, Dassault Aviation and MBDA carried out the first guided firing of the long-range Meteor missile against an air target from a Rafale combat aircraft. The test flight followed earlier missile separation trials carried out on the rafale in 2013 and 2014. The recent firing was performed from a two-seat variant over the DGA missiles test range in Biscarosse near Bordeaux. The recent firing represents an important milestone in the integration of Meteor onto the Rafale in line with the development of the aircraft in the next Rafale F3-R standard. The first Meteor missiles will be delivered as of 2018 to equip the Rafales of the French Air Force and Navy.

[nonmember]Subscribe to read the full text[/nonmember]

[ismember]With a throttleable ramjet motor and ‘fire and forget’ firing mode, Meteor is a ‘Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) intended for air defence operations at ranges up to 150 km. Relying on extended range capabilities offered by the RBE2 AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array), able to detect and targets hostile aircraft at very long range, The Rafale, equipped with Meteor air-to-air missiles will be able to intercept such targets well beyond the range of current MICA missile used with the Rafale for combat and self defence. According to the developer MBDA, Meteor is designed to enable network-enabled operation through a weapon data link, which enables remote targeting, offering effective operation in dense electronic warfare environments.

The Rafale has successfully completed its first test flights in a new heavily-armed configuration, comprising six air-to-ground precision AASM Hammer missiles, four medium and long range air-to-air missiles from the MICA family, two very long range METEOR missiles, as well as three 2,000 liter fuel tanks. Photo: Dassault Aviation
The Rafale has successfully completed its first test flights in a new heavily-armed configuration, comprising six air-to-ground precision AASM Hammer missiles, four medium and long range air-to-air missiles from the MICA family, two very long range METEOR missiles, as well as three 2,000 liter fuel tanks. Photo: Dassault Aviation

The result of a cooperation between France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK launched in 2003, Meteor is a federated programme enabling the consolidation of the European defence industry and technology base associated with the missile sector. The missile is being integrated on several European platforms, including Eurofighter Typhoon, SAAB Gripen. Beyond 2020 the the missile will be integrated into the Lockheed martin F-35 Lightning II weapon system.

The main industrial partners of MBDA UK, the industrial prime contractor for the programme, are MBDA France, MBDA Italy, SAAB (Sweden), Bayern-Chemie (a fully owned subsidiary of MBDA Deutschland) and Inmize (Spain).[/ismember]