RAF Typhoons Launch With Meteor BVR Air-to-Air Missiles For the First Time During QRA Mission

An RAF Lossiemouth Typhoon fighter jet takes off on a Quick Reacion Alert (North) Tango Scramble loaded with the Meteor Missile. Image credit: Flt Lt Smith/Crown Copyright

QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) mission was sparked by Russian Tu-160 bombers activity off Scotland. But no intercept took place this time.

RAF Typhoons in QRA at RAF Lossiemouth, UK, “were scrambled today as a precautionary measure against unidentified aircraft approaching the UK area of interest. However, no intercept took place and the Typhoons subsequently recovered,” a UK MoD release states.

Indeed, two Russian Air Force Tu-160 bombers, tail numbers RF-94100 and RF-94108 based on their radio activity, skirted the British Isles, reportedly on their way to Venezuela.

The presence of two Russian bombers in international airspace off the coasts of Scotland triggered the launch of the Typhoons in state of readiness at RAF Lossiemouth, along with a supporting RAF Voyager tanker:

Whilst QRA missions are launched every now and then, the real news this time is that the two Typhoon fighters were carrying the MBDA-developed Meteor air-to-air missiles.

MBDA Meteor is considered one of the most lethal BVR (Beyond Visual Range) AAMs currently available. One of its peculiarities is the use of ramjet ramjet propulsion system – solid fuel, variable flow, ducted rocket. “This ‘ramjet’ motor provides the missile with thrust all the way to target intercept, providing the largest No-Escape Zone of any air-to-air missile. To ensure total target destruction, the missile is equipped with both impact and proximity fuses and a fragmentation warhead that detonates on impact or at the optimum point of intercept to maximise lethality,” the vendor website says.

Meteor has been developed by a group of European partners led by MBDA to meet the needs of six European nations: the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Sweden. The BVR AAM will equip Eurofighter Typhoon, Rafale and Gripen and will also be integrated with the F-35.

“The missile system is a worthy investment as it can fly in any weather condition, perform against all current and known future threats; including combat aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles/missiles and will eventually operate from the F-35 Lightning aircraft,” the UK MoD says in a public release. “Crucially, the Meteor and launch aircraft will be networked by a datalink ensuring highly accurate and intelligent air strikes.”

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.