Saab, the Swedish Air Force and Sweden’s Defence Materiel Administration have integrated MBDA’s Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) onto the Gripen fighter.

The upgrade, known as MS20, is the latest step in Gripen’s process of constant capability expansion, Saab said in a statement.

The Gripen fighter with the latest operational upgrade and combat enhancement has been certified, approved and accepted into service.

Swedish Air Force chief-of-staff major general Mats Helgesson said: “After extensive testing by FMV and the Gripen Operational Test and Evaluation unit, all of the new MS20 functions including the Meteor missile are now fully integrated with Gripen.

“The Swedish Air Force is now in its initial operational capability phase with the Meteor.

“The Meteor missile is currently the most lethal radar-guided missile in operational service, and the Swedish Air Force is the only operational user so far.

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“I am very proud and satisfied to have the Meteor in the inventory of my air force.”

Powered by a ramjet engine, Meteor tactical missile can shoot down airborne threats launched from a distance of more than 100km.

Gripen is now the world’s first and only combat aircraft to be operational with the long-range and agile air-to-air weapon.

The complete MS20 upgrade provides the Swedish Air Force Gripens with new capability options for air-to-air, air-to-surface and intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions.

“The Meteor missile is currently the most lethal radar-guided missile in operational service, and the Swedish Air Force is the only operational user so far.”

The upgrade included the integration of Boeing GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb for a high-precision, long-range strike capability.

The aircraft comes with an improved Link 16 datalink system that supports a significant increase in data exchange between other fighters and C2 nodes.

A new ground collision and avoidance system (GCAS) has also been fitted to protect the aircraft in demanding low-altitude environments, in addition to an improved CBRN system that allows Gripen to stay operational and effective in the event of a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack.

The Czech Air Force also plans to implement MS20 upgrades for its Gripen fleet.

Image: The upgraded Gripen fighter. Photo: courtesy of Saab AB.