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) and take development to the systems preliminary design review in September 2007.
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; modifications to the AI-24 Foxhunter radar will be implemented by SELEX Sensors and Airborne Systems; and Flight Refuelling Limited will modify 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 per 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. 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 the five other European nations involved (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.”
By adopting a strict systems engineering approach to defining the requirements and to designing, implementing and verifying the solution, fully certified aircraft will be available in time to continue with the firing programme as scheduled.
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.
“By contracting QinetiQ to undertake this work, the MOD is able to protect the Meteor development schedule by removing a dependency on the availability of Typhoon from the Meteor development programme,” added Sqn Ldr Matt Nicholas of the BVRAAM IPT. “We will look to use the modified Tornado F3 to launch Meteor Missiles during guided firing trials from mid 2009 through to the latter part of 2011. We are planning at the same time to run a parallel Typhoon integration programme to ensure that the Meteor missile will meet its in service date as a fully operational weapons system integrated onto Typhoon.”