Matra BAe Dynamics (MBD)and Boeing have written to US Undersecretary of Defence for Technology and Acquisition Jack Gansler suggesting the Meteor medium-range missile as the basis for a transatlantic development partnership.

The move by the Meteor team members is a riposte to a US Department of Defense proposal to the UK Ministry of Defence. This suggests the two nations could form a long-term missile development partnership if Raytheon's missile submission is selected ahead of the Meteor as the Royal Air Force's Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) for its Eurofighter squadron.

MBD and Boeing also suggest that such a move would re-establish competition in a long-range air-to-air missile market which, in Western terms, is monopolised by Raytheon's AMRAAM weapon.

The offer to Gansler, which observers say is unlikely to find a favourable response in Washington, was revealed just days before the MoD's Equipment Approvals Committee met on 21 February to make its recommendations on the BVRAAM competitors. Raytheon says its bid, based on development of its AIM-120 AMRAAM, is cheaper and less risky than the Meteor offering.

MBD deputy chief executive Alan Garwood claims the Meteor will meet the RAF's requirement when it is delivered in 2008 and will allow the European consortium to compete with Raytheon for the position of world leader in air-to-air missile technology. MBD has guaranteed the programme will be delivered on time and on cost.

Garwood says no response has been received to the Gansler letters sent in early February.

The Meteor is a pan-European project with France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden involved. The UK will provide up to 40% of funding.

Source: Flight International