Qinetiq has secured a £5.5m contract from the UK MOD to use the Tornado F3 as the alternative test platform to the Typhoon to support trials for the Beyond Visual Range Air-Air Missile (BVRAAM – Meteor).
Qinetiq will provide capability support and undertake the conversion of two Tornado F3 aircraft to a standard that will ensure the safe carriage, control and release of the Meteor missile.
Other sub contractors involved in delivering the Meteor development trials programme comprise: BAE Systems Insyte which will handle software modifications to the main computer; SELEX Sensors and Airborne Systems, who will implement modifications to the AI-24 Foxhunter radar; and Flight Refuelling Limited, who are tasked with modifying the Tornado eject launcher to integrate the Meteor missile to the Tornado aircraft systems.
During 2005 it was identified that the Eurofighter Typhoon may not be available for missile development trials as set out in the original MOD procurement plan. Qinetiq was tasked to identify and propose an alternative launch platform that could be made available to support these trials. The study identified the Tornado F3 as the most realistic option for an alternative platform. According to Qinetiq, the programme of work offers the BVRAAM IPT a low-risk and cost-effective option to replace Typhoon in the Meteor trials while protecting other issues such as agreed workshares with partners from Sweden, Spain, Germany, Italy and France.
‘We will use our extensive knowledge of the Tornado F3 avionics system as well as the breadth and depth of our systems engineering and flight trials expertise to deliver a complete programme,’ explained Tony Wall MD of Qinetiq ’s air division. ‘This solution means that the milestone dates for the Meteor programme trials can be met and that the risks associated with such work can be managed in the most effective manner.’
Although only one aircraft will be used for any particular missile firing, it was considered important to have two aircraft available for the duration of Meteor trials programme. This will ensure that a trial firing can continue if the primary trials aircraft becomes unavailable at short notice prior to a planned firing. The cost of converting a second aircraft should also be offset by the cost savings realised by ensuring that a missile firing can continue once the range infrastructure has been set up.