Meteor is an active radar guided beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) being developed by MBDA. Meteor will offer a multi-shot capability against long range manoeuvring targets in a heavy electronic countermeasures (ECM) environment with range in excess of 100 kilometres (62 mi).
It is intended to equip the Euro fighter Typhoons of the United Kingdom Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Royal Saudi Air Force, Germany’s Luftwaffe, Spain’s Ejército del Aire, Italian Air Force, British and Italian F-35s, Dassault Rafale of French Armée de l’air, Saab JAS 39 Gripen of the Swedish Air Force, Czech Air Force, Dassault Rafale of the Indian Air Force, Egyptian Air Force and Qatar Air Force.
It entered service in the Swedish air force in April 2016, with the SwAF as the first operator of the missile due to most testing having been done on the JAS-39. It officially achieved initial operating capability (IOC) with Swedish air force Gripens in July 2016, and it was announced at the Farnborough Air Show that the Czech air force would soon reach IOC as well. According to MBDA, Meteor has three to six times the kinematic performance of current air-air missiles of its type. The key to Meteor’s performance is a throttleable ducted rocket (ramjet) manufactured by Bayern-Chemie of Germany.
MBDA is planning integration of Meteor on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Block 4. The Meteor has already been checked for fit in the internal weapons bays of the JSF. It is compatible with the aircraft’s internal air-to-ground stations, but would require modification of the fin span and air intakes to be compatible with the air-to-air stations. The U.S. Navy may require a Meteor-class missile to replace the capability lost with the retirement of the AIM-54 Phoenix in 2004. A possible solution may be a ram-powered AMRAAM (ERAAM) carried by the F-18E/F Super Hornet. India has made a request for information about integrating Meteor on their Sukhoi Su-30 MKI fleet.
Joint New Air-to-Air Missile
In 17 July 2014, MBDA has agreed to jointly research a meteor’s seeker with Japan. A spokesman from the Ministry of Defence (Japan) confirmed on 14 January 2016 that, Japan and the United Kingdom will develop a Joint New Air-to-Air Missile (JNAAM) by “combining the UK’s missile-related technologies and Japanese seeker technologies”. The active electronically scanned array seeker of the Mitsubishi Electric AAM-4 B would be mounted on the Meteor, because the AAM-4B is too large to be carried in the Japanese F-35 weapons bay. The meteor’s current seeker is not as advanced as the AAM-4 B and this would give Britain access to advanced Japanese seeker technology.