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German Eurofighters fly with Meteor missiles for first time

German Eurofighters with Meteor missiles
Photo: German Air Force

Two German Air Force Eurofighter aircraft assigned to Tactical Air Force Squadron 74 achieved a first for the service recently as they flew first flight tests with the Meteor air-to-air missiles.

The flight with the beyond visual range air-to-air missiles (BVRAAM) was enabled by a new software update on the Neuburg-based fighters that was completed in April this year.

Germany is now carrying out flight tests with the missile to verify the manufacturer’s specifications correspond to the actual values with the new software versions. The missile’s effect on the flight behavior and fuel consumption of the Eurofighter is also being evaluated.

Photo: German Air Force

Meteor will give Eurofighter pilots a tactical advantage by allowing them to engage targets in the air that are not visible to the naked eye, but can only be detected by radar.

The 180-kg Meteor is a ramjet missile capable of travelling at speeds of around Mach 4 and hitting targets at distances of over 100 kilometers. The missile is built by MBDA as prime contractor under an international project. The UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Sweden are all involved.

Germany plans to have all of its Eurofighters equipped with the capability to launch Meteor missiles, which are similar in dimensions to the AMRAAM currently carried. Only minor modifications to the eject launchers are required.

While it is in German, the video below provides video footage of the first flight tests with the Meteor.

The service plans to soon accept the missile into its inventory after completing live-fire tests that will take place at a future undisclosed date. The service plans to complete the trials by the end of the summer, however.

To have all of its Eurofighters carry the missile, the German Air Force is replacing the oldest Tranche 1 airframes with the Tranche 4 models as part of the Quadriga project. Quadriga will encompass the purchase of 38 fighters, 7 twin seater and 31 single seater variants, under a $6.35 billion contract.

German Air Fore photo of a Eurofighter with Meteor, AMRAAM and IRIS-T air-to-air missiles

In addition to Meteor and AMRAAM, German Eurofighters can also carry IRIS-T (Infra Red Imaging System Tail/Thrust Vector-Controlled) short-range infrared homing air-to-air missiles.