Saab have successfully completed a test flight by a Gripen E aircraft with the Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) for the first time.  

The flight included two Meteor missiles and was operated from Saab’s airfield at Linköping, Sweden say the company.

“The aircraft continues to perform as smoothly as we have seen throughout the whole flight test phase flying with external stores. I’m really looking forward to the upcoming steps in the flight test programme, taking us closer and closer to completing weapon integration. Meteor makes Gripen E extremely capable in the air dominance role”, said Robin Nordlander, Gripen experimental test pilot, in a release.

This test with Meteor is a part of the weapon integration progress in the Gripen E test programme and marks an important milestone for the aircraft. The next step is to continue to fly with different configurations and gradually expand the flight envelope.

Last year, a Typhoon jet successfully completed a simultaneous firing of two Meteor missiles as part of the programme to integrate the weapon on to the aircraft.

The test was conducted using Airbus Defence & Space Instrumented Production Aircraft (IPA) 4 with the support of BAE Systems, Eurofighter GmbH, MBDA and the Ministry of Defence.

The trial was used to test successful engagement of targets and the simultaneous two-way data link between two missiles and the aircraft. The data gathered follows a series of six successful Meteor firings conducted from Typhoon in 2016. Following loading activity at BAE Systems’ Military Air & Information site, in Warton, UK, the trials took place over the UK’s Hebrides Range.

Meteor brings both aircraft types an unparalleled air-to-air engagement capability. The missile is an active radar guided beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile developed by MBDA. Meteor offers a multi-shot capability against long range manoeuvring targets in a heavy electronic countermeasures (ECM) environment with range well in excess of 100 kilometres (62 miles).

52 COMMENTS

  1. Always been a fan of the Gripen concept, notably the combo of high-end systems and weapons together with a real attempt to make it work in austere locations. Seems that so much of the rest of our new kit are Alfa Romeos rather than Toyotas.

    • Alfas? I hope not the most unreliable car I ever had as nice as it was to drive. Mind you the German versions of the kit seem to be identical to them judging by the operability stats.

  2. Often wonder if the Typhoon fuselage could be re-engineered to accept a Single F135 (f35) engine. Keep everything else as is to minimise costs, reduce certification and keep commonality with the Typhoon. Would give a cheaper alternative to the typhoon for both export and the RAF. Would also offer commonality with F35 operators as the engine is the same, giving air forces the high low mix. Although I suspect a single engine Typhoon with 43,000 lbf (190 kN) of thrust would be a quite an aircraft and possibly out perform the F35 in some respects.

    • It already out performs the F35 in practically all respects other than sensors and stealth and I am not sure re engining them will change. equally the engines in the Typhoon not only support British Industry but as I read only yesterday are extremely effective in the competitive stakes and are very well regarded in the Industry. The F135 on the other hand has some way to go to gain that reputation though I am sure it will one day.

    • Its not about the engine its about bringing in a cheaper fighter that the UK could sell. The Typhoon was beaten by the f35 on price in the Belgian competition. The Typhoon as it stands is a excellent aircraft but its expensive to buy and run, remove an engine and you make the new aircraft cheaper straight away. The Typhoon would remain but we could offer an alternative new single engine fighter.

      I think you’ll see the Gripen and the F35 doing well over the next few years.

      It no good saying a UK engine supports British industry if were never going to export another Typhoon because its too expensive.

      On other consideration is removing an engine could give allow an internal weapon bay to be engineered reducing RCS and closing the gap to the F35.

        • It’s a concept but ok where’s the Typhoon sales going to come from. What’s your thoughts on attracting new customers and competing with the F35. How will the UK maintain fast jet production into the mid 2030’s?

          Why did Saab decide to take the cost of re-engineering the fuselage for the Gripen E? Perhaps because they realised without it they no longer could compete.

    • EJ200 is the most reliable fighter engine on the planet. Your suggestion would be an absurd way to “reduce costs” given the need for major redesign, retooling, flight testing and certification. If Typhoon actually needed more power, RR says it can increase power by 15% “very easily”, with 25% perfectly possible.

      • And yet the Gripen E is a Re-engineered fuselage!

        Fairly irrelevant if it was a updated F135 engine or an updated EJ200.

        Ok the concept may be difficult for some to consider. But where are new typhoon sales going to come from. Even with the 48 from SA if they are assembled in the UK that may stretch production to 2027 if the Saudis want wait that long. The F35 will have an updated engine by then giving more range and fuel efficiency making the typhoon a tougher sell. There’s no plans to invest in the EJ200. Without a stop gap idea or concept fast jet production in the UK is set to end by the middle of next decade. Then we’ll be face with a skills gap when Tempest finally goes into production sometime 2035. Now that’s a real cost.

        • Firstly, I like the Gripen and it has a place in many nations fleets, but we need to get our head around the fact that the Typoon is finished as a future operating platform. It will be replaced in the future by Tempest and we should concentrate on that.

          For me the UK should concentrate on getting Taranis/Magma to full production and start selling these at £20m each, to work alongside the F35’s and Typhoons.

          there is far more opportunity in this platform and unbelievably Britain is once again at the forefront and seem to have applied an emergency brake to bringing into production.

          If we can enhance our current typhoon fleet at an acceptable cost point – fine. But wholesale redevelopment is a big no for me.

        • What has hurt Typhoon sales was the lack of a Naval variant.
          If a new Typhoon was built with a single engine could it be made as a Naval variant, unlike the present model?

        • Yes but the Gripen was designed from day one to be a single engine fighter, you cant simply ‘re design a twin engine fighter into a single engine fighter, and somehow you think that would save money?

          • Saab completely changed the centre and rear sections of the fuselage to accommodate 40% more fuel and the F414 engine. They moved the landing gear into the wings thus changing the design of the root of the wings. Aspects which impact weight, stress, aerodynamics, thrust. The Typhoons engines are side by side unlike some aircraft so mounting a single higher thrust engine centrally within a similar external fuselage is not as challenging as say a F15. Probably the biggest issue would be weight distribution, removing a lot of mass from the centre and tail may be challenging and could be the main factor in whether such new aircraft would be possible.

            Saab have kept many aspects as is to keep costs down whilst improving performance, I would suggest the same path. You save costs in 3 ways, new component design with reduced number of parts, improve maintenance (less frequent but better access reduces time) and removes an engine and associated controls reduces purchase price and cost of ownership, if you share that engine with another airframe you own you can drive down cost through economies of scale. How is this possible simply because engineering design tools and manufacturing techniques are better today than in the 80s when the Typhoon was conceived.

        • Tempest isn’t going into production in 2035, that’s when it’s aimed to start coming into service. With Typhoon being fully replaced by 2040.

          • You won’t see any meaningful production pre 2034 if its IoC is 2035. The one thing learnt from the f35 program is don’t produce until you’ve tested properly, the UK cannot afford to produce dozens of airframe which require expensive updates and upgrades. Big ask to see IoC in 2035 with all typhoons replaced 5 years later unless we’re planning on less airframes which wouldn’t be a surprise.

            There’s plenty of promising technologies that are in their infancy which could go into a 6th Gen fighter, its at what point you say this technology is mature enough to include. UK needs to ensure the new aircraft is true 6th Gen and not something that a upgraded f35 could match.

  3. I recall Meteor was one of the things used to justify the cuts in 1995 Front Line First, along with Hellfire and TLAM.

    Here we are over 20 years later.

    How does it take so long to develop a missile?

    • I suspect the UK will be looking for commonality in the replacement for Harpoon. Whichever long range high end ASM solution is chosen by the UK would ideally be capable of air launch, deck launch, VLS launch, submarine torpedo tube launch and also have a practical land attack role. This is outlined in the Perseus missile target specs. for a high end, long range hypersonic cruise missile.

      The Perseus would likely be expensive but seems like the missile that could do it all, but it won’t be available until 2030 time-frame. The question is whether there would be value in a lower capability option and also whether there is really a need for an interim solution based on actual likely threats in the meantime? Spear 3 might perform a lower capability role with air launch and the potential for quad packed VLS launch. Sea Venom provides the capability for helicopter launch against targets up to 500 tonnes. Both may be effective against much larger ships if they can penetrate defenses and take out the sensors. If we need more in the interim then JSM and LRASM seem the best options IMO.

    • Typhoon is already having Marte-ER integrated. For the UK, GHF is correct; any future ASM will be a version of Storm Shadow’s replacement whatever that turns out to be.

  4. You have to love the Gripen E, what’s not to like?

    Highly reliable, affordable to buy and operate and extremely capable.

    If I was in charge of Belgiums procurement, I would have procured 60 of these and saved a small fortune.

    The diminutive Gripen E, with its advanced sensors, increased range, agility and weapons fit is capable of taking on any peer aggressor.

    I would have loved the E model to have been fitted with an EJ200 derivative. I believe an ‘EJ260’ was mooted at one time with 26,009lb of thrust.

    That would have made the E a real rocket powered scooter!

  5. Considering we british build more parts on the Gripen than the F35 we should in my opinion have some in the RAFs inventory, or maybe it would be to expensive to train and maintain different aircraft, but we did used to have more than 2 different kind of jets in RAF service almost always… Untill the Harrier was taken out of service and sold to the yanks for penny’s we did have 3. But why not have a few squadrons of Gripen Es? Oh yeah money saving!!!

  6. Small lightweight fighter ok at everything but no good at anything . You only get what you pay for Sweden is extremely high wage cost so I should imagine this plane in reality is over priced for what comes with it . Let’s be honest who would buy it if they could afford the F35 or typhoon !

  7. I would love to see a three Squdron light fighter Gripen E wing in the RAF, like the much missed Coltishall Jaguar wing.

    It would help generate much needed critical mass and take some of workload from the soon to be very hard worked Typhoon force.

    It would help generate a closer working relationship with the Swedish and hopefully bring them in as a core Tempest partner.

    It simply won’t happen unfortunately.

    As for it not being good at anything at all. It’s excellent sensor and weapons suite, coupled with its small size and low frontal radar signature will make it more than an equal to the Su35.

  8. The operating cost per hour of the F35 is very good and far less than typhoon (think I have read $10k per hour against $50k for typhoon).

    Given we need 80 operational F35s so we can put 48 on each Carrier in a surge, we really do need to order 138. When not on carrier duties (and I think the carriers should always sail fully loaded otherwise its a waste), they should be conducting the same tasking that Tornadoes do now.

    We just cant afford another aircraft type, we need to standardise on F35 and Typhoon and start developing Tempest and Taranis with the Japanese and Swedish, possibly even the Koreans

    • For 80 operational F35s we’d need to purchase more than 138 of them. We’re only getting 138 over the life of the program and will only be fielding 4 frontline squadrons. Fine, if each one has 16-18 planes in it but if it’s the standard 12 per squadron then it’s only 48 planes, which is crazy.

      Realistically we should be able to field 5 squadrons totalling 60 planes from the 138. I’d prefer we buy more than that and have 6 squadrons. I think 2 squadrons on the plane at any one time would be fine. Add a 3rd for surge capacity if we went to war.

      I Also think we need more Typhoons; preferably 10 frontline squadrons of them, 8 would do, plus 5-6 squadrons of F35s.

    • Japan Turkey and Korea are developing 5th Gen fighters for around 2025. The UK wants a 6th Gen combat system. It needs various technologies to mature to be true 6th Gen so mid 2020’s is too early. We also have capable 5th Gen and 4.5 Gen airframes with loads of life.
      The biggest problem for the UK is being able to keep skills until a 6th Gen fighter can see full production. Manufacturing parts for the F35 is not the same as assembling a full airframe.

      We’re able to keep the design teams up to date with TFX participation and Tempest design contracts but manufacturing is going to be challenge without Typhoon orders. The f35 has won every competition against the Typhoon.

      Qatar decision to purchase Typhoon was mostly political and not to do with capabilities as they already bought the Rafale. Others where the aircraft will be UK built are Saudi (although % of these could be assembled in SA and far from certain with recent events) ,Malaysia may order a handful but are struggling for funds and Canada, although their main reason for originally rejecting the F35 was cost which has evaporated. India is running another competition but they will want tech transfer and made in India.

      Its very hard to see Typhoon production going beyond 2025 in the UK. Especially with new Korean, Japanese and Turkish 5th gens being available around that time frame also entering the fray.

      • Personally then I think the best way to continue that is for us the purchase more Typhoons. Extra 3 squadrons to make 10 total. 36 extra planes wouldn’t break the bank and would boost our number of airframes nicely.

        For Tempest I think we should work with Sweden and Italy

        They should do 2 versions of Tempest: Gen 6 model with all the bells and whistles, and a cheaper Gen 5 version without.

        Oh, carrier versions of both, too. Make it a broader appeal for export customers for both navies and air forces.

        • With the F35b there’s no prospect of UK developing a second carrier capable fighter jet. This is also why the Franco/German FCAS programme will be of no interest to UK as this is a must have for the French. Not sure about multiple versions of Tempest either. This gets very expensive as per F35 design.

      • Japan are not developing a 5th generation jet fighter. They are looking at options and one of these is to join the UK Tempest programme. The Typhoon is now a mature platform with continuous upgrades (through UK) throughout its lifecycle. It will be a viable platform for the next couple of decades at least and there will be many opportunities for sales. Not sure why we need Typhoon sales to enable Tempest manufacturing – the UK also manufactures F35 and that will last decades.

        Regarding the next gen UK fighter: There is no mid 20s deadline to have mature technologies – not sure where this comes from. The UK government has budgeted £2 billion up to 2025 to develop enabling technologies for this fighter which will be required by 2040.

        • We’re not manufacturing very many of them though. 138 over the life of the program, enabling us to stand up 4 squadrons totalling 48 frontline aircraft. I don’t see why we could stand up a 5th to Make it 60.

          We should really be buying either more Typhoons or more F35s. On cost grounds I’d say Typhoons but F35s can boost carrier air power.

          • The UK is part of the whole programme in which over 4000 jets will be manufactured. The UK is not building only 138 for itself but 15% of every jet in the programme.

            The UK have currently 136 Typhoons – Russia only have 76 SU35s and will only be getting 98 in total. They will be ordering only 12 SU57s.

        • Don’t believe I said you need 6th Gen mature tech mid 2020s, you need to investigate 6th gen tech so I said mid 2020s is too early to have 6th Gen developed.

          I understand Japan needs a new fighter pre 2030 and have flown a 5th gen prototype already.

          You do need to maintain skill relevant to aerospace manufacturing, its very controlled and even if the manufacturing tech is different we will lack the core skills. We can’t afford a 10 year gap. Cost us dear on the Astute sub manufacturing.

          • I’d be shocked if 6th gen tech was developed by mid 20’s by anyone – I just pointed out that the UK was on the way to do so through its initial £2 billion budget allocation.

            The UK is manufacturing 15% of every F35 in that programme – over 4000 jets will be built. Maintaining skills in aero-space won’t be a problem.

          • I think we agree on 6th Gen tech.

            Not sure I agree that 15% of a F35 give us the skills to integrate and assemble a fighter jet. The 15% is repetitive production. I certain wouldn’t want to rely on it.

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