European multi-nation conglomerate MBDA has started production of its Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) Meteor, according to a company spokesman.
MBDA spokesman Doug Denneny said recently at the Association of United States Army trade show in downtown Washington five of the partner nations have entered production contracts (United Kingdom, Italy, France, Spain, Sweden) and the company expects a contract from Germany by the end of 2012. Sweden is not part of MBDA but is a partner on Meteor. Denneny said MBDA expects deliveries “fairly soon” to the nations under contract.
Though final test results are still classified, Denneny said the company is “very pleased with how the final testing was done.”
Denneny said these current Meteor production contracts are scheduled for deployment on the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Swedish aircraft Gripen and the French aircraft Rafale, manufactured by Dassault.
MBDA believes Meteor is the best option against competing BVRAAM missiles like Raytheon’s [RTN] Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) because of its unique dual-rocket “Ramjet” motor. While the AMRAAM has very high acceleration, it coasts to its target, reducing speed. MBDA says Meteor’s Ramjet motor allows the missile to accelerate to boost while the second jet maintains that speed all the way to the target, which gives it a “massive no-escape zone” and assistance all the way to the target.
MBDA thinks Meteor has a good chance of landing a coveted spot on Lockheed Martin’s [LMT] F-35 Joint Strike Fighter due to its Ramjet motor. Denneny said Meteor is “being looked at very seriously” for the internal carriage on the U.K.’s F-35C variant.
“We know that there are decisions coming up with how that integration of the weapons will proceed,” Denneny said. “We’re positive and confident that Meteor will be on that roadmap.”
In addition to the United States, Japan, Canada, the U.K., Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Australia, Norway, Denmark and Israel are purchasing the F-35.
MBDA is a five-nation effort formed by the U.K., France, Italy, Germany and Spain. Meteor is an effort to provide a missile “technology jump” to western European militaries and to provide something different from competing missile technologies.