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23 Dec 02. The £1.2bn (€1.86bn) fixed price prime contract awarded to MBDA for the new Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air weapon was signed today at the Defence Procurement Agency in Abbey Wood, Bristol by the DPA on behalf of the Governments of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

METEOR is the future long-range air-to-air armament selected jointly by Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK for the Eurofighter Typhoon, by France for the Rafale and Sweden for the Gripen fighter aircraft. The ramjet technology and advanced seeker capabilities of METEOR will provide these aircraft with the most advanced weapon system capable of countering all projected air-to-air threats.

As the prime contractor, MBDA will manage all of the development and production of the METEOR weapon. In doing so, the company will be working extremely closely with the aircraft constructors in order to ensure timely and effective integration of METEOR onto the three candidate aircraft.

Under the contract, MBDA will manage and execute work on the programme through its operating companies in France, Italy and the UK. In a similar manner, MBDA will be working in close partnership with Bayern Chemie in Germany, Inmize, the MBDA joint venture in Spain, and Saab Bofors Dynamics in Sweden. In addition, the programme will involve a wide range of sub-contractors across each Partner Nation. These sub-contractor selections will be based on the joint criteria of technical excellence, manageable risk and best value for money.

Overall, the METEOR programme will involve some 250 companies throughout Europe. Around 2500 jobs will be created and sustained, thereby ensuring that Europe maintains the high-technology skills base and critical competitive edge essential to the strategically important missile systems industry.

Fabrice Brégier, Chief Executive Officer of MBDA said: “MBDA is proud to be entrusted with a programme of such significance to Europe. This contract is a mark of customer confidence in MBDA. METEOR will further strengthen our position as a global player and reinforce our aspiration to become the benchmark company in the missile sector. This project will enhance our knowledge and capability to manage the large complex international programmes necessary to deliver to our customers their cost-effective missile systems of the future.”

Guy Griffiths, MBDA Chief Operating Officer, said: “METEOR will further advance European technology and establish new standards for air-launched weapons. This will serve to keep Europe at the forefront of world missile capability and furthermore ensure that the Partner Nations retain full control of their next generation missile product and its technologies.”

In order to deliver the METEOR development programme, and the associated integration onto all three aircraft platforms, MBDA has already established a fully integrated international project management team, encompassing the best skills and capabilities from the Company’s industrial partners across Europe.

METEOR Project Director, Trevor Taylor, said: “Working closely with our METEOR industrial partners, we have already conducted substantial advanced technology development work. The first key programme milestone, scheduled for 2005, will be the initial firing of METEOR from an operational in-service Gripen aircraft. The subsequent development firing will be conducted from Eurofighter Typhoon. Using in-service aircraft for development firing trials will maximise the opportunity for the weapon to be brought rapidly into operational service. The missile integration onto Rafale will be run as an equally important parallel activity.”

Comment: Although Meteor is signed at last, with some observers expressing doubts whether the contract would ever survive, numbers are down which increases cost per unit. The ramjet technology utilised on the system is new and requires some very challenging technology to make it work particularly at high altitudes in cert

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