Late last month, a Saab JAS 39C Gripen fired two examples of the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile. They were the first production-representative rounds of the weapon to be fired as the Meteor program gears up to deliver operational capability beginning early next year. The missiles were launched at remotely controlled targets at the Vidsel range in northern Sweden. They validated the datalink between the launch aircraft and the missiles, as well as the weapon’s ability to lock on. The trials also verified the command support that has been developed for the pilot.
Intended to arm the ‘Euro-canards’ (Gripen, Rafale and Typhoon) and possibly integrate into the RAF’s JSFs, the MBDA Meteor ramjet-powered missile is taking giant strides towards service entry. Recent successful guided firings have paved the way for trials of production-representative missiles, keeping the program on track for an in-service date of 2013.
The arrival of the Gripen at the Dubai airshow represents a major milestone in an expanding marketing campaign for Sweden’s multirole fighter. Not only does it mark the aircraft’s first public appearance in the Middle East, it introduces the latest JAS 39C/D–now in service with Sweden and the Czech Republic–to the major international airshow circuit.
Away from the turmoil of the marketplace, the Gripen team has continued to develop the aircraft and enhance its weapon capabilities. On Dec. 13, 2005, a Gripen took off from Linköping with a fully representative systems-fit Meteor missile, the first such flight for this important European weapon.