The Swedish military has removed funding for the Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile in an effort to overcome a shortfall in the armed forces' budget. The missile is a collaborative project proposed by the industries of the four Eurofighter nations, Sweden and possibly France.

The Swedish air force says that Meteor funding has been removed by the commander-in-chief for "economic reasons" and that it will not take part in development of the missile. It adds that the requirement remains and a missile will be bought off the shelf later.

FMV, the Swedish defence procurement agency, says the removal of the programme from funding by the air force has "lifted the decision to the political level", suggesting participation will be maintained with funding from other sources.

The Meteor is being developed by Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK to arm the Eurofighter and Saab Gripen fighters. France says it will also participate. The UK has the lead requirement and is expected to decide shortly between the Meteor and developments of the Raytheon Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile.

Sweden is likely to be responsible for 12-15% of the programme. Some Swedish development money has been allocated to Saab Dynamics, which has a government contract to develop the fuze. Gripen radar manufacturer Ericsson is also likely to have a role in developing the datalink with Marconi Electronic Systems.

Saab Dynamics describes the budget move as "a suggestion", while programme leader Matra BAe Dynamics says "the Swedes like the Meteor, its advanced technologies and its industrial participation. Budgetary issues will go to political levels for a decision."

Source: Flight International