'Numerous export enquiries' for Meteor missile, says UK MoD

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With development work on MBDA's Meteor entering its final year, the UK Ministry of Defence has confirmed that the beyond visual-range air-to-air missile has attracted strong international interest.

"Meteor has been the subject of numerous export enquiries from around the world, with some nations considering the possibility of making an order," the MoD's Defence Equipment and Support organisation said in its Desider publication.

Being developed for partner nations France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK as a replacement for the Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM, the Meteor weapon system will arm the nations' Dassault Rafales, Eurofighter Typhoons and Saab Gripens from mid-decade.

Following the completion of remaining air and ground trials activity, DE&S expects the Meteor to receive its certificate of design next year, clearing the way for production activities to deliver "a single missile design that will be applicable to every platform and environment".

 
© Geoffrey Lee/Planefocus

Service entry is due with the UK Royal Air Force and fellow Eurofighter operators Germany, Italy and Spain from 2015. "Sweden will field Meteor at around the same time on Gripen, and France on Rafale a little later in the decade," DE&S said.

MBDA declined to comment on the progress of its test campaign with the Meteor, but speaking in mid-March, UK minister for defence equipment, support and technology Peter Luff said six firings had been performed since early 2009 using Gripen and Panavia Tornado F3 trials aircraft.

“MBDA is not at liberty to discuss any individual export customers or their delivery schedules,” the company said. “However, Meteor is currently attracting considerable interest from a large number of potential export customers.”

Meteor has been included in weapons packages related to contests such as India's 126-unit medium multi-role combat aircraft requirement, now being contested by the Rafale and Typhoon.

The BVRAAM design is also likely to be of interest to Typhoon buyer Saudi Arabia, which is in the process of introducing 72 UK-built examples. BAE Systems in February revealed that Riyadh could seek "Tranche 3 capability" for its aircraft, referring to an aircraft standard that will include the integration of Meteor.

MBDA continues to lobby to also have the design integrated as a core weapon for the Lockheed Martin F-35. It late last year showed a revised weapon configuration that would allow four Meteors to be carried internally by the US stealth fighter. Jane's Missiles & Rockets earlier this year quoted MBDA UK managing director Steve Wadey as saying that the company was in discussions linked to the Meteor with six potential F-35 customers.