MBDA expects more partner nations in its UK-led Meteor programme to sign their first production orders this year for the beyond visual-range air-to-air missile, and has identified Spain as a lead candidate.

Company chief executive Antoine Bouvier says all certification activities on the Meteor weapon will be completed by 2012, with production deliveries to start the following year. So far, only the UK has placed a firm order for the design, which will arm its Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft in operational use from around 2015.

 Meteor - EF
© Eurofighter

Eurofighter and Meteor partner nations Germany, Italy and Spain have yet to follow the UK's commitment, along with France and Sweden, who will field the missile with their respective Dassault Rafale and Saab Gripen fighters.

This year "will be an important year for MBDA to secure production orders from other Meteor partners", says Bouvier. "There is a high level of maturity in the Spanish decision process," he comments, but declines to say which other nations could follow Madrid in ordering the system.

Eurofighters Spain - Geoffrey Lee Eurofighter 
© Geoffrey Lee/Eurofighter
Spain wants the Meteor to arm its Eurofighters

Bouvier describes the availability of the BVRAAM Meteor as a "must" for any current weapons offering to potential buyers for types including the Gripen, Rafale and Typhoon. "Meteor is widely seen by export customers as a very important decision factor in the procurement process of any new fighter," he says.

Source: Flight International