MBDA is satisfied with the results of its recently-completed live firing campaign with the Meteor beyond visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM), and will deliver its first production rounds before year-end, says Andy Bradford, the company's chief engineer and head of the project.
Three electronic protection measures firings conducted at the Aberporth test range off the west Wales coast earlier this year from Panavia Tornado F3 trials aircraft resulted in direct hits on Selex Galileo Mirach target drones, Bradford says, despite their use of jamming equipment and chaff.
In all, 21 Meteor missiles fitted with telemetry equipment were fired during a development and test campaign conducted for lead customer the UK and its partner nations France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden.
"The firing campaign has given us very good results, and good performance," Bradford said at MBDA's Stevenage site in Hertfordshire on 26 June. "Meteor does what it is meant to do."
MBDA will deliver a final performance statement to the Meteor integrated joint project office within the next month, with Bradford saying the design is compliant with its lethality and kinematic performance requirements. It is expected to receive final acceptance later this year, before production deliveries commence in the fourth quarter to the UK.
The company has already delivered six ground handling training missiles to the programme, and forebodies for the first production weapons are now in build at its Lostock site in Lancashire. MBDA will be capable of completing up to 20 per month.
All of the Meteor partner nations have now signed production contracts, with the exception of Germany. However, Bradford says "discussions are very advanced, and we expect to be on contract late this year." MBDA is also receiving significant interest in the design from potential export customers, he adds.
The BVRAAM weapon is likely to enter operational use with Swedish air force Saab Gripens in 2014-2015, UK Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoons in 2015-2016 and French air force and navy Dassault Rafale fighters from 2018.