When a Gripen multi role fighter, carrying a Meteor Avionics missile, took off today from the Saab-field in Linköping, Sweden, it marked an important milestone in the Meteor development program. For the first time a Meteor missile equipped with functional subsystems has been used in flight. (Picture: global-defence.com)
This flight was the first time a Gripen and a real subsystems equipped Meteor missile took to the air. It was also the first time in a missile program, when the aircraft integration for all three designated aircraft, that will carry the missile, will be conducted in parallel with the actual missile development program. Gripen is at the center of this program and this flight was one of many that will involve Meteor and Gripen.
The Meteor Avionics missile represents all the dynamic properties of an operational missile in terms of size, weight and aerodynamic shape. Importantly, it behaves exactly like an operational missile with regard to the computer hardware and software interfaces between it and the aircraft.
Thomas Hellström, Project Manager Meteor Integration at Saab, stated:
“This is an important milestone, and the integration process has been very successful. We have established a solid foundation for the upcoming flight campaigns. With this first flight we verified the systems on Meteor and Gripen work very well together. The flight demonstrated installed performance and active communication in both directions.”
Further flights, to demonstrate successful interaction between Gripen aircraft and Meteor missile, will take place at the Saab Flight Test Center in Linköping, prior to the first live firing. Gripen performed the first trial fit of a geometrically representative Meteor missile in April 2004 and will perform the first air-launched live missile firing in 2006 from the Vidsel test facility in the north of Sweden.
Martin Evans, MBDA’s Multinational Project Director Meteor, said:
“The successful completion of this flight trial marks a significant step towards the first free flight trials of Meteor in 2006 when the Air Launched Demonstrator (ALD) firings will be conducted from the Gripen aircraft in Sweden. This is a significant event for the Meteor development programme with real flight hardware becoming available and undergoing true life testing on the Gripen platform. This flight is the result of an excellent working relationship established between MBDA and Saab which will stand the programme in good stead as the ALD firings approach”.
Gripen is the first of the new generation, multi-role combat aircraft to enter service. Using the latest available technology it is capable of performing an extensive range of air-to-air, air-to-surface and reconnaissance missions and employing the latest weapons. Gripen is in service with the Swedish and Czech Republic Air Forces and has also been ordered by the South African and Hungarian Air Forces. The UK Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS) is operating Gripen as its advanced fast jet platform for test pilots worldwide.
About the Meteor program
Meteor is being developed by the European guided weapons leader MBDA to meet the requirements of six European nations for a superior Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missile system with the operational capability to excel in all future aerial combat scenarios. Designed to defeat the emerging threat from new BVR missiles, Meteor provides the long stand-off range and high kill probability which combine to ensure pilot survivability. The missile’s ramjet propulsion system gives Meteor its high-speed performance and the energy to defeat fast, manoeuvring targets at long range.