Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoons have made the first in-service missions with the MBDA Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM). Typhoons launched from RAF Lossiemouth on December 10, carrying the new weapon. The QRA launch was in response to a pair of Russian Tu-160 ‘Blackjacks’ that were flying close to UK airspace, but they were not intercepted.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: ‘This latest missile system demonstrates the next chapter of the Typhoon which will see the jet evolve its ability to target and destroy any airborne threat at great distances. The Meteor missile will provide an unrelenting deterrence to those who wish harm upon the UK and our Armed Forces.’
Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier added: ‘RAF Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon fighters are now armed with the most advanced air-to-air missile in the world, the MBDA developed ramjet-powered Meteor.’
The arrival of Meteor comes under the so-called Phase 2 Enhancement (P2E). This initially adds Meteor, which has been a long time coming for Typhoon. Indeed, the first powered firing from Typhoon came back in December 2012. Meteor and Storm Shadow cruise missiles are wrapped up in P2E. MBDA’s Dual Mode Seeker (DMS) Brimstone comes under the follow-on P3E — all of which combines for Project ‘Centurion’. For the RAF’s Tranche 2 and 3 Typhoons, this structured upgrade means the Typhoon is effectively able to replace the trusty Tornado GR4.
Test work for Meteor saw BAE Systems taking the lead, working with Airbus in Spain for a coordinated effort on Meteor integration, which culminated in a dual firing in April 2017. Operational evaluation of P2E was completed by the RAF’s No 41 Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES) at RAF Coningsby, after the first suitably configured aircraft was delivered to the unit in July 2017.