What happens when a multi-role fighter aircraft like Gripen and a state-of-the-art Air-to-Air missile like MBDA’s Meteor come together? They make for one of the strongest and the most lethal combinations in air-warfare.
During modern warfare, the ability to strike with pinpoint precision from beyond the horizon is very crucial. Let’s take a look at how Meteor, which is considered to be the best Beyond-Visual-Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) available today, does exactly that.
With an operational range of over 100 km, a BVRAAM Meteor missile can travel at a speed of over Mach 4, which is over four times the speed of sound. The missile can accelerate mid-way, leaving very little chances of the target to escape. In fact, it has a no-escape zone of over 60 km which is known to be the largest among air-to-air missiles.
Meteor is capable of engaging targets ranging from agile jets and UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) to cruise missiles, simultaneously and autonomously in any given weather.
More features that make Meteor capable include its two-way data link ability, active radar seeker, and the solid-fueled Ramjet motor. The two-way data link allows the pilot to target and re-target the missile even after it has been launched. The active radar seeker enhances the missile’s tracking ability, and the ramjet propulsion system gives Meteor its high-speed performance and the energy to defeat fast, moving targets at long range.
Meteor is an “all-up-around” weapon and is not only lethal, fast, and smart, but also cost-effective and requires very little maintenance as it is designed as a self-contained weapon that requires no assembly prior to loading.
Meteor has been developed keeping in mind the requirements of six nations- France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. But it was the Swedish Air Force that got the missile system integrated to their Gripens for the first time (in 2016). Last year in November, Gripen E successfully completed its first flight with two meteor missiles.
In the words of Swedish air force chief Maj Gen Mats Helgesson, “Meteor will be a game-changer.”