The marketing of Meteor is just as superb as the missile itself. In terms of rocketry, the essentials are the same as Akash.Nozzleless booster accelerates the missile to 4M. In long range scenarios it coasts until the right distance from the target where it ignites its 2nd stage
Like Akash, and unlike other dual pulsed solid motor missiles, Meteor uses a solid fueled ducted ramjet (SFDR) engine for its second stage. Being a ramjet engine with no oxidizer onboard, its specific impulse is about 3 times (between 1000 and 1200) of the solid motors.
Therefore, it can stay powered for much longer than dual pulsed engines in the end game. Another difference is that it has limited throttlability (not to the extent of a liquid fueled rocket). This greatly enhances its kill zone and probability.
The seeker, the warhead and the communications are state-of-the-art. Not so for Akash Mk1. Another fundamental difference is the size. MBDA has been able to build an SFDR which is small enough to use in an A2A missile. Most probably the smallest in history.
Now the marketing part. SFDR is not a silver bullet. It’s been known and tested for over 60 years now. The Americans, Russians and (probably) the Chinese have the tech. Russian development of an A2A SFDR missile is slow only for want of funds.
There are limitations to SFDR too. It makes the missile heavy and the inlets are draggy. Also, the airbreathing inlets place restrictions on the permissible AoA and sideslip angles.
Additionally, the inlets are chin mounted on the Meteor. This makes the maneuverability asymmetric and like a fighter it may require rolling to aligning the airframe for best turning performance in the direction desired. And all throughout it needs to maintain lock.
The complexity of the missile is also higher (e.g. in India’s first test of the SFDR, the second stage did not ignite. It’s not as simple as starting a solid motor). These added complexities and “novelty” (e.g. the inlets have to be made of titanium) blows up the acquisition cost
This has been the largest detractor for many to adopt the missile in large numbers. Many argue that in the vast majority of the cases, being able to fire two solid-fuel missiles at the cost of one SFDR provides better flexibility and probability of kill.
India is developing its very own SFDR. One test firing has happened. But for reasons described above, I expect IAF/IN to maintain an inventory of Astra Mk1, Mk2 and SFDRs. The last one will be the least numerous and by some margin.

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More from @Indrani1_Roy

3 Sep
Introducing STAR. This is the first implementation of the Liquid Fuel Ramjet (LFRJ) engine. STAR stands for Supersonic TARget. This will be surface launched (with a booster) and will serve as a supersonic target for A2A and S2A missiles. Capable of 2.4M.
Next in line: S2S, A2S and AShM variants. The air launched versions will have a smaller booster. My guesstimate is that total weight with booster for air launched versions will be around 750 kgs. This will allow carriage on light and medium weight fighters.
Since some have asked, let me answer in the main thread. There is no superior/inferior among SFDR/LFRJ. The solid-fueled gives more energy per unit volume. It is also allows easier storage & more flight cycles. So, it is ideal for A2A & S2A missiles like SFDR and Akash. (1/n)
Read 12 tweets
7 Jul
I wanted to share this Guna magic (courtesy @hvtiaf) and tell you a story about incremental development. You see those small open cam-shell doors for the parachute housing at base of the fin. Innocuous, they seem. But they matter and were used for dissing the Tejas in the past.
1. In the very first prototypes, that door was just a simple cap. But when the parachute deployed the cap went tumbling down the runway. Somebody had to go down the runway and its side to find it. That's why it used to be painted bright red.
2. But it slowed everything down. It was an FOD for other aircraft and the piece had to be found before the next flight. In the next iteration, the cap was attached to the parachute. find the parachute and you find the cap.
Read 14 tweets

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