Rafale Fighter Jet For The 1st Time Makes Operational Sortie With Deadly Meteor Missiles

In a first, the French Air and Space Army has undertaken the first operational sortie of a Rafale jet equipped with Meteor missiles, as part of the efforts to upgrade the aircraft type’s existing F3R airframe. Meteor is an advanced beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile.

“Rafale F3-R’s mounting power, the Air and Space Army has just completed its first operational operation with a METEOR good missile Rafale missile team,” the French air force said in a Twitter post on March 4.

Another tweet said the flight made it possible to validate the process of routing ammunition depots to the armament zone, then to validate the know-how during a first deployment of the missile by the gunsmiths, and to confirm the operational readiness of the crews.

Developed by the French company MBDA, the Meteor is an active radar-guided BVR air-to-air missile, offering multi-shot capability and engage highly maneuverable targets such as jets, and small targets such as UAVs and cruise missiles in a heavy electronic countermeasures (ECM) environment with a range in excess of 100 kilometers (54 nmi).

“From now on, the Air and Space Army will increase its Air / Air missile capabilities as part of its conventional or nuclear defense missions,” the air force said.

The missile is a much-needed upgrade for the Rafale. A solid-fueled ramjet motor allows the missile to cruise at a speed of over Mach 4 providing it with thrust and mid-course acceleration to target/intercept.

A two-way datalink enables the launch aircraft to provide mid-course target updates or retargeting if required, including data from off-board third parties. The datalink is capable of transmitting missile information such as functional and kinematic status, information about multiple targets, and notification of target acquisition by the seeker.

According to the company, Meteor is currently the most advanced and capable weapon in its league. It has been in high demand globally and is being used by France, India, United Kingdom, Spain, Sweden, Italy.

The weapon will also be used by Greece, Brazil, Egypt, Germany, and many more countries in the near future.

“Virtual ‘gamechanger’, the METEOR brings a considerable capacitive gain to Rafale, reinforcing in shape its ability to “enter first,” the air force added.

It is an important part of the arsenal associated with the Dassault Rafale. India has even requested MBDA for possible integration of Meteors with the Su-30MKI fleet.

The Rafale is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike, and nuclear deterrence missions, as a true omnirole potent fighter jet.

It is in service with French Air & Space Force, Hellenic Air Force, Indian Air Force, Egyptian Air Force, Qatar Emiri Air Force.