LCA Tejas gets MBDA’s Meteor BVR air to air missile

LCA Tejas gets MBDA’s Meteor BVR air to air missile

Seeking to enhance the capability of the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, the Indian Air Force is planning to equip it with a long-range missile of the Meteor class which will help it get an edge over the jets of the adversaries.
The missiles are required to be equipped on the 83 Mark 1A LCAs for which an order has been placed by the air force with the public sector unit Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
“The request for proposal has asked the aircraft to be equipped with a long range beyond visual range missile of the class of Meteor which can take out enemy aircraft in the range of more than 100 kilometres. This would help the LCA get an edge over the aircraft with adversaries,” said government sources.
The LCA Mark 1A, which will be lesser capable than the LCA Mark 2 which is under development by the DRDO agencies, lacks certain capabilities when compared to the other planes but with a longer range missile, it can take down the enemy aircraft without coming in their striking ranges, the sources added.
Both Pakistan and China do not have a missile in the range of the Meteor which has been developed by a European consortium and would be equipped with the Rafale combat planes that are being acquired from France by India. India has bought a package of the European Meteor missiles along with the Rafales and may prove to be game changers due to their beyondvisual-range striking capability of over 100 km.
However, the situation changed after the Pakistanis were supplied the AIM120-C5 beyond-visualrange missiles which had the capability of taking out enemy planes at 100 km and were fitted on their F-16s.
This somewhat changed the balance in terms of aerial superiority over the skies of South Asia, but with the Meteor coming in now, India can again say that it would be able to completely dominate in terms of air-to-air battle with aerial adversaries, the sources said. 
The sources said that till the Kargil war and a few years after that, the Indian Air Force had complete superiority over the Pakistan Air Force as it did not have any beyond-visualrange missile fitted on their F-16s or the Chinese supplied planes.
The Meteor missile was not part of the Rafale deal that was being done by the UPA government but when Modi decided to go in for an emergency procurement of the Rafale planes from France, the IAF desired to include the Meteors as part of the weapons package.
During the Kargil War, the Indian side had two beyond-visual-range missiles which included the French S530D and the Russian RVV AE missile which deterred the Pakistanis from using its fighter plane fleet in the Kargil war with India, the sources said.
“The over-arching consideration was the BVR missile capability of IAF fighters which impinged unfavourably on the mission success probability,” former Pakistan Air Force officer air commodore Kaiser Taufel had written in his blog about the war.
“One good thing about the Meteor is that it has not yet been integrated with any American-origin aircraft and the Pakistani F-16s or the Chinese-origin JF-17s can’t get them in the times to come as well. The possibility of the Chinese integrating them is also ruled out,” a source said.
India is currently going to get the missiles with the Rafales that it has procured but has plans of integrating these missiles on the Russian Su-30 combat planes, which are due for an upgrade in the near future. 
Meteor is a next generation, active radar-guided, beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) system. The missile is being developed by MBDA Systems for six European nations.
The Meteor BVRAAM can be integrated on Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab Gripen and Dassault Rafale aircraft. The Meteor missile can also be installed on Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).
Meteor BVRAAM development
Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile Integrated Project Team (BVRAAM IPT) was set up by the UK MoD to manage the development of the Meteor missile. The project was later joined by Germany, Italy, Spain, France and Sweden, to fulfil their future BVRAAM requirements.
“The Meteor BVRAAM can be integrated on Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab Gripen and Dassault Rafale aircraft.”
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) awarded a contract to MBDA for the design and development of Meteor missile in December 2002. The contract was signed on behalf of all partner nations of the Meteor programme. It includes options to produce the missile to meet individual requirements of nations.
The preliminary design review and wingless specification of the Meteor were approved in 2003. The provisional integration of Meteor representation on Eurofighter Typhoon was successfully completed in the same year.
The trial integration of Meteor on Gripen and Rafale aircraft was carried out in 2004. The design of the missile was confirmed with the second round of aerodynamic wind tunnel trials in the same year.
The Meteor missile handling abilities of Rafale aircraft were confirmed during live catapult take-off and landing trials aboard the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in 2005.
The maiden test firings of Meteor from Gripen aircraft were conducted in 2006 at the Vidsel range in Sweden.
“A series of air and ground trials and missile development trials were successfully concluded by 2012.”
In September 2010, Saab was awarded a $47.76m contract by the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) for the integration of Meteor on Gripen aircraft. The contract includes test flights and firings of Meteor.
A series of air and ground trials and missile development trials were successfully concluded by 2012.
MBDA and Thales signed a $60.51m contract for the development and initial production of seekers for the Meteor missiles in June 2013. BAE Systems was contracted for the integration of Meteor on Typhoon aircraft in the same month.
Saab and FMV successfully conducted the first test firing of the Meteor missile, which is configured for mass production, from Gripen aircraft in June 2013.
Design of the Meteor missile system
The missile, being designed as a complete unit, requires no assembly and maintenance immediately before loading. This arrangement reduces its overall life logistic support cost.
Meteor can be launched as a stealth missile. It is equipped with enhanced kinematics features. It is capable of striking different types of targets simultaneously in almost any weather.
The Meteor has a length of 3.65m and diameter of 0.178m. It is designed to be compatible with AIM-120 type rail and eject launcher systems.
Meteor BVRAAM blast-fragmentation warhead
The Meteor missile is equipped with a blast-fragmentation warhead, supplied by TDW of Germany. The warhead is designed as a structural component of the missile. The missile integrates proximity and impact fuses.
Sensors on the beyond visual range air-to-air missile
The Meteor is equipped with a two way datalink, which allows the launch platform to provide updates on targets or re-targeting when the missile is in flight. The datalink is capable of transmitting information such as kinematic status. It also notifies target acquisition by the seeker.
The Meteor is installed with an active radar target seeker, offering high reliability in detection, tracking and classification of targets. The missile also integrates inertial measurement system (IMS) supplied by Litef.
Meteor missile performance
The missile has a range in excess of 100km. It is designed for a speed greater than Mach 4. The missile has a large no escape zone.
Propulsion system on the next generation missile
The Meteor missile is powered by a solid fuel variable flow ducted rocket (ramjet) supplied by Bayern-Chemie. The ramjet provides the Meteor missile with a capability to maintain consistent high speeds. This ability helps the missile to chase and destroy fast moving flexible targets.
The Meteor includes an electronics and propulsion control unit (EPCU). The EPCU adjusts the rocket’s air intake and duct covers based on the cruise speed and the target’s altitude.
The EPCU observes the distance and fuel level in the rocket and adjusts the throttle of the rocket. This feature of the EPCU helps the missile to manage its fuel system.

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