Fresh separation trials involving the Dassault Rafale and MBDA's Meteor beyond visual-range air-to-air missile are due to be performed in late May, as the type edges closer towards eventual service introduction with the French armed forces.

To be performed from the Cazaux flight test centre of France's DGA defence procurement agency over water using instrumented rounds without warheads, the releases will follow two such tests performed from the site in October 2012. Two more of the weapons are also due to be released from the Rafale before the end of 2013, according to a DGA programme official.

The forthcoming releases will be made in different areas of the flight envelope, with the host aircraft performing a high-g manoeuvre and then flying at a high angle of attack, the official says.

Further releases will be performed as France moves towards making the first controlled and boosted launch of a Meteor from the Rafale during 2015. The new-generation air dominance missile is due to become operational with the French air force and navy from 2018, with Paris having already ordered a first batch of 200 weapons.

Meanwhile, the DGA says it has completed captive flight tests with MBDA's submarine-launched Scalp Naval cruise missile for the French navy. The process involved flying from Cazaux with the weapon mounted beneath one of its Dassault Mirage 2000 trials aircraft.

Source: Flight International