U.K. Awards MBDA Meteor, Sea Viper Contracts
PARIS — The U.K. Ministry of Defence (MOD) has awarded MBDA a contract to pave the way for the integration of the Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile on its new F-35 stealth fighters, as well as a £175 million ($223.9 million) contract for further in-service support to the Sea Viper weapon system, securing a key capability of the Type 45 fleet, the company announced April 21.
The Meteor contract helps de-risk the integration effort and includes the mixture of test assets, production and engineering work needed to support Meteor’s compatibility and use from F-35. The UK’s F-35 Lightning II force is planned to be armed with the Meteor missile in the 2020s.
The test assets being contracted encompass the usual suite of test missiles required for an aircraft integration program. Contract scope includes the role-change kits for the U.K.’s common Meteor stockpile for both Typhoon and Lightning.
The contract follows-on from the successful firing trials of MBDA’s Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) from the F-35 earlier this year. ASRAAM is being integrated onto the F-35 as part of the aircraft’s Block 3 SDD program.
Also set for future integration onto the F-35 is MBDA’s SPEAR precision surface-attack missile. Meteor and SPEAR are advanced weapons that complement the fifth-generation F-35, bringing networked capability with stand-off — both weapons are key elements of the U.K.’s carrier strike capability in the future.
The “Sea Viper Unified Support Environment Period 1” contract will cover the continuing in-service support to the Sea Viper weapon system, including the Aster missile that protects the Royal Navy’s Type-45 destroyers, for the next five years.
The Unified Support Environment (USE) is the principle of providing in-service support to U.K. MoD weapon systems and missiles in a portfolio environment. The USE approach is designed to reduce support workload and administrative costs, and has been successfully applied to several other MBDA programs, including ASRAAM, Brimstone and Storm Shadow.
The work will sustain around 50 MBDA U.K. jobs, primarily at Stevenage, Portsmouth, and Bristol, and will involve a large number of U.K. companies in the supply chain, as well as MBDA France and MBDA Italy.