Typhoon jets launched from RAF Lossiemouth yesterday with the Meteor Air-to-Air missiles for the first time during a Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) mission.

The Meteor was initially developed by the UK, though Germany, Italy, Spain, France, and Sweden joined the project shortly at a later stage. The missiles are designed for use aboard the Eurofighter Typhoon and mature versions of the Swedish Gripen. It is an active radar guided beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) developed by MBDA.

Meteor offers a multi-shot capability against long range manoeuvring targets in a heavy electronic countermeasures environment with range well in excess of 100 kilometres (62 miles).

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.

The RAF’s prized Typhoon Force is unquestionably now the cornerstone of British and NATO military power. It has proved itself in combat roles over Libya, Iraq and Syria, protecting UK skies and overseas territories, and providing critical support to our NATO Allies in Eastern Europe.”

Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier said:

“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. Another huge leap forward in capability for the Typhoon Force, which is proud to continue defending the UK and our allies, 24/7.”

The pilot flying the first Meteor equipped Typhoon said in a news release:

“The responsibility of flying such a capable platform, armed with this formidable weapon is immense, but the options this gives us in responding to an emergency situation cannot be understated.”

 

38 COMMENTS

  1. “It has proved itself in combat roles over Libya, Iraq and Syria”
    True but its not as though its had to come up against any other airborne aircraft

  2. Is there a confirmed date for when the RAF Typhoons will get the upgraded radars? Kuwait will be recieving theirs early next year wont they.

    • No, the RAF is said to be waiting for the 2nd version of CAPTOR E that will field enhanced electronic Attack capability verses the 1st version that will be fitted to the Kuwaiti aircraft.

      Apparently this is how they will incorporate the lessons learned in bright adder.

      • I know it all keeps changing but did the last £178bn equipment plan (or whatever the figure was that was inserted into every single defence press release for years) include a line item for Captor-E upgrades? In other words, is this something currently funded in the equipment plan that we have to hope doesn’t get cut in the next review or is it something currently unfunded where we have to hope against hope that HMG will do the right thing and fund it when the technology is ready?

  3. Now would be a good time to invest in more Tranche 3 Typhoons, replacing the earlier Tranche 1’s for current and future operations.

    Given that Tempest will not be in service until the early 2030’s, this is the best solution we have for defending the UK and delivering a large amount of ordnance in any future conflicts.

    The inclusion of thrust vectoring on future upgrades would also offer significant advantages too as I’ve mentioned in previous posts.

    And of course, it would serve as a useful test-bed for Tempest!

    https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/eurojet-pushes-thrust-vectoring-technology-for-typhoon-333501/

    • I’d also add conformal fuel tanks to that as well. I know we have a decent sized tanker fleet but CFTs are a cheaper option and also allow the Typhoons to carry more weapons. Not saying get rid of the tanker fleet but there would be many times when CFTs would do the job just fine and would save money by not operating a tanker aircraft.

      We should definitely order more Tranche 3s; enough to replace the older T1s and also grow the fleet to 8-10 operational frontline squadrons. The T1s could then be used for training and spare parts.

    • The RAF can Not even make proper use of it’s existing Typhoon fleet, Never mind to procure more Typhoon’s now.
      Not enough pilots it seems!
      RAF has procured 160 Typhoons in all, it is scrapping about 25 Tranche 1’s for parts, including 16 two seater trainers.
      There’s still a lot of Tranche 2/3’s in strorage. There seems to be only about 40 operatioal presently.
      It seems as the Tranche 1’s will be worn out by end of next decade.

      • Meiron, I believe that’s not quite true, as 24 tranche 1s will stay and operate from lossie I believe in the AD and aggressor role, and these are the ones with most hours remaining in the airframe etc, as the tranche 1s are considerably different than the tranche 2/3. While your quoted figure of 40 is about right, that’s available aircraft which can be used for QRA duties and doesn’t include the numbers which are operating on Shader, the Falklands and NATO air policing jobs. Therefore the available number of 40 or so is about right when you figure the 3-1 rule of equipment availability, serving, repair and maintenance. However as only a casual observer of all matters RAF, I am available to be stood corrected.

      • That’d be one job I imagined wouldn’t have any shortage of people applying. I always thought there’d be people applying who made the grade but not enough spaces.

      • That would put the cost up even more though, which means a smaller order. We’d end up going from 7 frontline Typhoon squadrons to 4 frontline Tempest squadrons.

        I’d rather have a single aircraft type and have it cheaper. That’d attract more export customers, which in turn would make the Tempest cheaper per airframe, allowing us to buy more.

  4. Was just reading an article on the firing of an air to air missile by a Spanish Typhoon pilot a few months back. There’s some reports he fired on another aircraft but the aircraft was able to take evasive actions.

    There was a incident over Syria this year where a US jet failed to hit a SU 22 with a heat seeking missile.

    https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/aviation/news/a27094/su-22-dodge-aim-9x-sidewinder/

    If these reports are true you have to wonder if all the talk of BVR engagement and dogfighting is dead is true.

    • Most air to air missiles stated range is based on max reach. They will run out of fuel long before then meaning they rely on their kinetic energy to make the distance. When the target aircraft starts manoeuvring to avoid the threat if the missile is out of fuel the chance of a hit are pretty low.

  5. Shame that with all the cutting edge capability that the RAF are triumphing (good, by the way) that they still wish to screw the RN over F35B.

    • I read that the RAF are lobbying the treasury for a split buy of F35. If availability rates are around 1 in 3 (?), then I can’t see that working without seriously hampering the carriers and making them a bit pointless as we wouldn’t have the numbers to make them effective. The only way it would work is if availability was kept high and we had 5 or 6 frontline squadrons plus a training/attrition squadron. Then let the RAF have 2 or 3 of the A.
      It will be the 2030’s before we get anywhere near these numbers if ever. Makes you wonder why we bother if we are not going to have meaningful numbers. A Brexit ‘no deal’ will be hitting us just when we need, and might have got, an uplift in budget to get the numbers due to heightening world tensions.

      • There is absolutely no point in having the A variant. Any per-airframe savings would be offset by having to purchase more of them for training and OCU. Only say I see having both A and B as acceptable is if There were further orders of A for the RAF in addition to the 138 b variants.

        TBH The way it’s going it’ll probably end up with second referendum anyway and we’ll stay in the EU. I’m cool with that by the way.

        We do need at least 5 operational frontline squadrons of F35 to make worthwhile. Part of me thinks maybe just give all the F35s to the RN and have the RAF stick with typhoons.

    • I can see the only way to justify procuring F-35A, is for a cutting-edge strike fighter to supplement Typhoon Tranche 3’s until Tempest is in service. Typhoon T3’s may no longer leading-edge by end of next decade. T2’s will replace remaining T’1’s for QRA role.
      .Decision need to be made in 2024/5 to procure Block4+ F-35A , possibly armed with a laser Canon aswell as missiles, to be in service by 2028. I cannot see Tempest ready until 2035,q or even later. Tempest development concepts should have started a decade ago.
      So could F-35A fill that gap until Tempest?
      Would F-35A be better value of money then developing Typhoon further?
      But I still think UK needs to procure more F-35B’s from 2023 until 2028 and beyond.

      • There’s value in developing the Typhoon further to de-risk technologies. for example 3D printing for instance could be used on the a Tranche 4 Typhoon perhaps reducing weight and number of parts. New antennas, coatings and materials are another examples. Boeing has reduced the RCS on the concepts of the F15 and F18 through evolution.

      • won’t happen unfortunately although the R.N having all the f35b to enable both carriers to operate at their full potential.

        • I know it’d never happen, not unless defence were suddenly given 3.5% of GDP.

          Realistically, a better bet would be to buy another 40 or so F35Bs to add 2 or 3 more squadrons. Single type means still only 1 OCU would be needed between them and the spare airframes could be shared between FAA and RAF.

          6 squadrons total would be a decent number; enough to fill a carrier and have half left.

  6. Too many in the UK look at F35 B as a carrier aircraft. However others from Singapore to japan and the USA are increasingly looking at it as a high performance short take off aircraft to be used in the event of runway destruction.

    As we renter into a world where we base the military on fighting high intensity conflict against near peer threats we need to stop assuming we will always have a permissive air environment and an area to easily assemble in.

    The RAF needs to see F35 in that light because with s500 keeping tanker aircraft well outside the AO and cruise and ballistic missiles raining over any airfield with in 1000 miles we need a capability to project AirPower. F35B is very much the culmination of the dream of STOVL aircraft in the 1950’s but unlike harrier which was always a limited use platform, F35B has a 20to1 kill ratio against even F15 and that’s before it gets Meteor.

    In addition it can perform any air to ground Mission required as well as SEAD and Electronic Attack. All this from a platform that can land and take off in 500 feet.

    F35B is not a good replacement for Tornado which is the mental issue the RAF seems to be having, however I don’t think any tactical aircraft could successfully perform the deep strike role now. Ideally the RAF would either procure a small number of B21’s or develop a larger Taranis UCAV for the deep strike Mission aspects that can’t be performed by a combo of F35B and Typhoon. F35 A will offer virtually nothing to the RAF.

          • 232/ same mindset that sees the t45 programme cut from 12 to 6 and the t26 from 13 to 8 the upholder class conventional submarines was once and still is considered one of the worlds best conventional boats, yet only 4 of the planned16 were built, all still in service, with canada as the victoria class, we bin programmes and designs without accepting how good our kit is and simply follow the’guff put out by the americans on how good their designs are, and buy american instead of building our own cutting edge designs to provide jobs and revenue in the export market, i for one cannot believe a batch 4 harrier couldn’t have been designed to produce our own 5th generation aircraft. people are already talking about the tempest ‘ the design is still, like the plans for the t31 on the back of a fag packet tempest might even be a total flop.

    • If the RAF requires some F-35’s for deep strike missions, why not them fund adaptations to the F-35B, such as removable lift-fan and drop-in fuel tank in same space. Also stealth drop tanks for all F-35B’s. Extra fuel tanks for the F-35B would extend it’s range.
      The F-35B can be used conventionally by the RAF instead of STOVL. So maybe 24-36 F-35B’s could be adaptations, and the rest of the 138 committed to, are standard F-35B’s to be used on the carriers.
      I am aware that the bomb-bay is being lengthen for Block 4 F-35B procurements.
      So the RAF need to take the decision to fund adaptations to the F-35B now.

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