The Swedish Air Force’s (SwAF) Gripen combat aircraft will soon be carrying MBDA’s Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missiles (BVRAAM) as part of its compliment of weapons.

The SwAF is now in its initial operational capabilities phase with the Meteor, according to Maj. Gen. Mats Helgesson, chief of staff of the air force.

“After extensive testing by FMV (Sweden’s Defence Materiel Administration) and the Gripen Operational Test and Evaluation unit, all of the new MS20 functions including the Meteor missile are now fully integrated with Gripen,” he said. “The Meteor missile is currently the most lethal radar-guided missile in operational service, and the Swedish Air Force is the only operational user so far.”

In April this year,  the FMV introduced the latest MS20 software load to the SwAF’s Gripen fleet thus enabling the JAS 39C/D to become the first aircraft capable of operating the ramjet-powered Meteor missile.

Meteor is a next generation, BVRAAM system that will revolutionize air-to-air combat in the 21st Century, according to MBDA.

MBDA is jointly held by AIRBUS Group (37.5 per cent), BAE SYSTEMS (37.5 per cent), and Leonardo – Finmeccanica (25 per cent).

The weapon’s development has brought together six nations with a common need to defeat the threats of today as well as those of the foreseeable future. Initially developed for Europe’s new generation of combat aircraft: Gripen, Eurofighter Typhoon and Rafale, Meteor is also being integrated on the F-35 Lightning II.

“Meteor is a missile that no nation could have developed or produced alone,” said  Antoine Bouvier, MBDA CEO. “Sweden and the five other Partner Nations in the programme – France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK – can be both proud and confident that they have a missile that ensures unquestionable air superiority for their pilots in the defence of their respective countries’ sovereign interests.”

Meteor’s performance is achieved through its unique ramjet propulsion system – solid fuel, variable flow, ducted rocket.

The ramjet motor ensures that the missile has maximum thrust when it is most required, namely at the end game leading up to target intercept. As a result, Meteor features the largest No-Escape Zone of any other current or planned air-to-air missile system.

Guided by an advanced active radar seeker, Meteor provides an all-weather capability to engage a wide variety of targets from agile fast jets to small unmanned aerial vehicles and cruise missiles. It is designed to meet the most stringent of requirements and is capable of operating in the most severe of clutter and countermeasure environments.