Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2015-03-01

The integration trials of the Meteor missile on the Dassault Aviation Rafale

From 2018, the Rafale omnirole fighter will be equipped with the lethal Meteor ramjet-propelled ultra-long-range missile produced by MBDA. This high tech, new generation weapon will be used in conjunction with the Rafale’s AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) is designed to cruise at Mach 4+.
It will offer a considerably expanded no-escape engagement zone against an extremely wide range of targets: fighters, AWACS, tankers, helicopters, cruise missiles and UAVs/UCAVs.
 
The integration trials of the 407 lb. (185 kg) Meteor onto the Rafale began with flight envelope expansion and initial carrier suitability testing from nuclear aircraft-carrier Charles de Gaulle to ensure that the new missile could withstand the violent shocks associated with catapult shots and carrier traps. Initial firing releases were carried out at Cazaux in October 2012 from two-seat Rafale B301 with un-guided and un-propelled but fully representative test rounds to ensure there were no adverse effects on the Rafale and on the Meteor during weapon separation.
 
Dassault Aviation engineers are currently busy developing both the Meteor fire control system (FCS) and the fighter-to-missile datalink used to update target data during the missile flight time. FCS flight testing began at Istres, France in July 2014 on Rafale B301, joined by single-seater C101 two months later. French Air Force and French Navy aircrews recently participated in a first round of tests to make sure that the Meteor fire control system performs and that the MoD stringent requirements are met. Five test firings will be conducted against representative targets between early 2015 and early 2017, using propelled and fully guided test missiles. Meteor qualification on the Rafale is planned in time for service entry in early 2018 with both the Armée de l’Air and the Aéronavale.
 
It is currently intended that, on French air Force and French Navy Rafales, the Meteors will be fitted to the two rear fuselage hardpoints only. Mid-underwing pylons will nevertheless be available for another two missiles as an option for overseas customers, doubling normal load to four Meteors (plus up to four infrared-guided and/or radar-guided MICA multi-mission air-combat/interception missiles) to increase Rafale’s already impressive lethality and combat persistence on the battlefield.
 

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