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Meteor missile completes final integration flight test from Rafale

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Meteor BVRAAM being test fired from the Rafale fighter jet. A French DGA photo

PARIS (BNS): The French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) along with MBDA, Dassault Aviation and Thales has successfully conducted the fifth and final guided test firing of the Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) system from the Rafale multi-role fighter aircraft.

With this test, the full integration flight testing campaign of the Meteor air-to-air missile onto the Rafale fighter jet has been completed, the DGA has announced.

During the test firing, carried out last month at DGA's Cazaux Flight Test Centre near Bordeaux, South West France,  the Meteor successfully engaged and destroyed at a very long range a high-speed air target ("Mirach" drone), simulating an evading fighter aircraft.

The first guided test firing of the Meteor BVRAAM from Rafale was conducted in April 2015.

"The latest test firing, conducted smoothly and uneventfully, demonstrated and confirmed superior performances than those expected at the inception. All the functionalities were successfully tested (such as the activation of the data-link between the Rafale and the missile) in numerous aircraft flight conditions (speed, load factor) and electronic warfare environment," the DGA said in a statement on April 26.

With a throttleable ramjet motor and 'fire and forget' firing mode, Meteor is intended for very long beyond visual range (BVR) air defence operations.

Once deployed on-board the new Rafale F3 fighters featuring the advanced RBE2 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, the missile would be able to intercept targets at very long range, thereby complementing the currently deployed MICA air-to-air missile used at shorter ranges for combat and self-defence purposes.

The first Meteor missiles are expected to be delivered by 2018 to equip the Rafale fighters of French Air Force and Navy.

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