France Orders 200 Meteor Long Range Air-Air MissilesJan 05, 2011 18:32 UTC by Defense Industry Daily staff
As 2011 begins, the French DGA made France the 4th customer nation to place production orders for MBDA’s ramjet-powered Meteor missile, after Britain, Spain, and Sweden. The 200 missile order was placed through the multinational program lead, Britain’s MoD Defence Equipment & Services (DE&S), to MBDA-UK. Price was not mentioned. The first French Meteor missile deliveries are expected in 2018.
MBDA’s Meteor missile was conceived as a longer-range competitor to popular weapons like the Russian R77/AA-12, and American AIM-120 AMRAAM. Its ramjet propulsion is intended to offer the missile a head-on closing range of 120 km, with a 2-way datalink and full powered performance at Mach 4+ throughout its flight, instead of the standard “burn and coast” approach use by rocket-powered counterparts. The intent is to give the Meteor both longer reach, and a wider “no escape” profile.
These characteristics will make the missile a strong export contender in both the new fighter and legacy fleet upgrade markets. There have been reports that the Meteor may have a version designed for internal carriage in the F-35, but no confirmation. At present, the focus appears to be on initial partner orders, and entry into service. Britain and Spain ordered Meteor missiles for their Eurofighter Typhoon fleets, and Sweden for its JAS-39 Gripen, which is serving as the Meteor’s main test platform. France is ordering them for its Rafale and Rafale-M fighters. Partner nations Germany and Italy have yet to place their initial production orders, and MBDA refuses to release Meteor production totals so far.