NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – European multi-nation conglomerate MBDA believes the dual-rocket ‘Ramjet’ motor on its Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) system, called Meteor, will enable it to land a coveted spot on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, according to a company executive.
The executive told Defense Daily during an interview April 17 at the Sea Air Space Exposition hosted by the Navy League that most traditional BVRAAM missiles such as Raytheon’s [RTN] Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) and Sidewinder and MBDA’s Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) have very high acceleration, but then coast to the target, reducing speed.
But Meteor’s dual rocket 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, he said.
“What it gives you, you have to compare with other weapon systems,” the executive said. “There isn’t an equivalent. We are the only Air-to-Air missile with a Ramjet.”
MBDA spokesman Doug Denneny said Meteor’s latest test results are classified and cannot be released.
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MBDA is a five-nation effort formed by the United Kingdom, 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, according to the executive. Sweden is not part of MBDA but is a partner on Meteor, according Denneny.
That difference is what makes Meteor an excellent candidate for placement on Lockheed Martin’s [LMT] F-35, which nations such as Japan, Canada and the United Kingdom, among others, have decided to purchase.
“I think a lot of what the F-35 partnership can bring is a force mix. If one of the other smaller nations wants to be a part of a coalition force, if all they’re bringing is the same as the Americans have, what are they bringing to the table,” he asked. “We’re not denying that in any major conflict, the Americans are going to be the commanders on the ground. But it’s important the Allies bring something special, something different to the force mix.”
The executive said MBDA has already secured commitments from the partner nations, with Germany and Italy about to sign, and delivery is scheduled for “the end of this year, beginning of next.”
MBDA is jointly held by BAE Systems with 37.5 percent, European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. (EADS) with 37.5 percent and Finmeccanica with 25 percent (Defense Daily, April 17).