Gripen has conducted a further successful live firing with the MBDA Meteor air-to-air missile, proving once again its reliability as a platform for the integration and testing of complex future missile systems for the world’s new generation combat aircraft. Gripen is the first and so far only new generation fighter aircraft to launch the Meteor.
Missile systems leader MBDA successfully test-fired its world-beating Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile on 6 March at the Vidsel Missile Test Range in Sweden. The firing follows on from previous successful trials undertaken in the UK and Sweden and is another significant event in the European six-nation Meteor project.
With between three and six times the kinematic performance of any current missile of its type, Meteor will provide the air forces of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK with untouchable air dominance. Matched with high-end aircraft performance from the three platforms that Meteor will operate from (Typhoon, Rafale and Gripen), the six air forces will have a winning combination when the missile enters service.
The firing was carried out from a Saab Gripen aircraft against a MQM-107B ‘Streaker’ high-subsonic subscale aerial target. The missile test firing concludes a series of development firings to prove the overall performance of the missile and its various subsystems in terms of guidance, propulsion, data link and fuse.
The missile was rail-launched from the Gripen flying at 0.9 Mach and at an altitude of 18,000ft (5500m). Following the boost phase, the missile successfully transitioned to its ramjet operation and accelerated to its operational speed. The seeker then acquired the target and tracked it through to intercept. During the flight the missile’s data link successfully demonstrated communication between the missile and the firing aircraft.
The key to Meteor’s outstanding performance is the rocket motor. For the first time a solid fuel ramjet is being used to propel a missile. Already proven in earlier test firings, the unique solid fuel throttle able ducted rocket gives Meteor the ability to maintain high speed all the way to the target aircraft, making evasion virtually pointless.
Dave Armstrong, MBDA’s Meteor Multinational Project Director said: “We’re obviously delighted that another test firing has gone so well. This follows on from the great progress we made last year and concludes the first phase of Meteor’s development. Now with every parameter of the missile proven, definition of the pre-production standard of the missile can now be finalised. During 2008, together with our partners and suppliers, we’ll be starting the pre-production industrialisation phase of the programme which will see the partner nations taking up their production options.
“With this test we have passed an important milestone for the entire Meteor programme” says Hans Eriksson, Programme Manager for Meteor at Saab Bofors Dynamics. “In the next phase we will carry out firing tests with missiles in pre-series to prepare for production start up”.
Saab’s participation in the Meteor programme is significant. Saab Bofors Dynamics is a partner to the main contractor, MBDA, and is responsible for several essential parts of the missile’s development. Saab Aerosystems is conducting the integration of the missile on the Gripen new generation fighter and a large part of the test firings of the Meteor programme. Finally, Saab Microwave Systems is responsible for the development of the aircraft radar’s computer link function, which was tested at this firing.
“This test firing confirms Saab’s excellent ability in weapons integration and advanced testing in co-operation with the missile industry and authorities. This time, we also tested system functions that further demonstrates Gripen’s ability as a weapon platform” says Börje Hjorth, Project Manager for Meteor at Saab Aerosystems.