on Mar. 4, 2021, French Air Force declared the Meteor Beyond Visual Range (BVR) radar-guided air-to-air missile operational after the first operational flight with a live missile.
The aircraft, a Rafale B (353/4-FT) assigned to the Escadrille SPA 167 “Cigogne de Romanet” of the Escadron de Chasse 2/4 Lafayette and stationed at the Base Aérienne 113 Saint-Dizier-Robinson, was armed with two Meteors under the rear fuselage pylons, two MICA-EM radar-guided missiles under the wings and two MICA-IR IR-guided missiles on the wingtips, in addition to an external fuel tank on the centerline
“This flight made it possible to validate the routing process from the 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 preparation of the weapon crews”, said a tweet posted by the French Air Force after the flight.
A true “game-changer”, the METEOR brings considerable capacity gain to the Rafale, reinforcing our ability to “enter first” in an unprecedented way, the French Air and Space Army said.
Meteor is a next generation beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) designed to revolutionise air-to-air combat. The weapon has been developed by MBDA to combat common threats facing the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Sweden.
The Dassault 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.
The Rafale is referred to as an “omnirole” aircraft by Dassault.
With a service ceiling of 50,000 feet, the Rafale combat aircraft can reach maximum speeds of 750 knots.
It can carry out both air-to-ground strikes, as well as air-to-air attacks and interceptions during the same sortie. The jet is capable of performing several actions at the same time, such as firing air-to-air missiles during a very low altitude penetration phase, giving it outstanding survivability.
The mission system of the Rafale has the potential to integrate a variety of current and future armaments.
It has been cleared to operate weapons like the MICA air-to-air ‘Beyond Visual Range’ (BVR) interception, combat and self-defence missiles, the METEOR very long-range air-to-air missile, the HAMMER — Highly Agile and Manoeuvrable Munition Extended Range — modular, rocket-boosted air-to-ground precision-guided weapon series, laser-guided bombs with different warheads, and “specifics armaments” selected by some clients.
The Rafale is also fitted with 14 hardpoints, out of which five are capable of drop tanks and heavy ordnance.
The jet’s total external load capacity is more than nine tones.