France's CEV flight test centre has completed two successful releases of the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile from a Dassault Rafale, moving the nation a step closer to fielding the weapon.

Conducted from the DGA defence procurement agency's Cazaux base on 4 and 10 October, the separation trials involved twin-seat Rafale test aircraft B301 releasing instrumented rounds from stores stations beneath its fuselage.

 Rafale Meteor - DGA

Rafale Meteor drop - DGA

Both images: DGA

Paris signed a production contract in December 2010 for an initial 200 missiles to arm its air force- and navy-operated Rafales in frontline use from around 2018. France is a partner on the UK-led Meteor programme, which also involves Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden.

Designed as a European rival to Raytheon's AIM-120 AMRAAM, the Meteor will also arm the Eurofighter Typhoon and Saab Gripen. MBDA also hopes to see the ramjet-powered weapon integrated with the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Source: Flight International