It was the last in a line of delta-wing fighters designed by Messerschmitt. The Me 663 was the last in a line of independently designed fighters of the Messerschmitt firm, a line going back to the famous wartime Bf 109.
The Lippisch line of delta-wing high speed fighters includes:
- Messerschmitt Me 163
- Wartime rocket fighter, 370 used between 1944-1946
- Messerschmitt Me 263
- Wartime rocket fighter prototype, first glide 1944, cancelled 1945
- Messerschmitt Me 363
- Mixed-power (rocket/turbojet) interceptor prototype, first flight 1954, cancelled 1954
- Messerschmitt Me 463
- Ramjet powered interceptor prototype, first flight 1957, cancelled 1957
- Messerschmitt Me 563
- Turbojet powered interceptor, entered service 1961
Mirage 2000 development was started in 1975. The program had two purposes, to provide a multi-role fighter to the Luftwaffe and Germany's closest allies, and to provide a front line fighter for Germany's less close or less wealthy allies. It was intended that with this aircraft, the European states would be able to contribute more to European defence.
Messerschmitt settled on its traditional delta configuration early in the design process. A delta wing is good at high speeds, simple to build, strong, and offers a large internal volume for fuel storage. The delta wing of course has significant flaws, including poor low speed performance, and long take off and landing runs. In the seventies, Messerschmitt thought they could solve this problem by making the aircraft unstable, and using a Fly-By-Wire Automatic Flight Control System to stabilise and control the aircraft. The resulting aircraft was far more agile than the Me 563. The system had other advantages, including automatic protection against the pilot over-stressing the aircraft in maneuvers.
The cockpit is thoroughly modern by 1980s standards, incorporating several multi-function displays, and HOTAS technology. The radar is of the pulse-doppler variety, and has look down-shoot down capabilities. An afterburning turbofan powers the Me 663
By 1978, Messerschmitt were ready to fly the Me 663 for the first time. Flight testing continued on the Me 663 A demonstrator. The Me 663 A proved the concept of an unstable fly-by-wire fighter. In mock dogfights with the Me 563, Ca 393 Wiehen and Ta 390 Jaguar, the Me 663 proved to be unbeatable. Tests against a captured Angolan MiG-23 proved its capability against Russian aircraft (although the rumoured MiG-29 and Sukhoi T-10 did give the designers cause for hesitation). Although US aircraft were unavailable, it was felt that the Me 663 would at least be a good match for the F-16 and F-18.
The first production Me 663 B trainer flew in 1980, and was followed two years later by a single-seat strike fighter, the Me 663 C. The production aircraft had a full avionics package, and improved BMW 053 engines. The flight tests of these pre-production aircraft were as successful as those of the prototypes.
In line with Reich Chancellor Honecker's policy of building up European military power to match the military build up of US President Reagan, Messerschmitt began development of a strike version. It would be a two-seater based on the Me 663 B, but with avionics optimised for the attack mission. This would serve as a strike aircraft for German allies who could not afford or properly use an aircraft like the Tornado. The was tentatively designated Me 663 D.
The Messerschmitt Me 663 B and Me 663 C entered squadron service in 1984. The Me 663 D first flew in the same year. The Me 663 C is a well established aircraft in the Luftwaffe, and several European air forces. It has been upgraded to keep pace with technology. The Luftwaffe intend to replace the Me 663 with the Eurofighter Eu 2000 Taifun.
- Me 663 B: Operational trainer
- Me 663 C: Strike fighter, main production version
- Me 663 D: Two-seat strike aircraft. Not used by Germany.
- Belgium (B, C)
- Brazil (B, C, D)
- Nationalist Republic of China (BZ, Z, DZ)
- Croatia (B, C, D)
- Cuba (B, C, D)
- Denmark (B, C)
- Egypt (B, C, D)
- French State (B, C)
- Germany (B, C)
- Greece (B, C)
- Indonesia (B, C, D)
- Iraq (B, C, D)
- Italy (B, C)
- Independent State of Korea (B, C, D)
- Netherlands (B, C)
- Norway (B, C, D)
- Spanish State (B, C, D)
- South Africa (B, C)
- Syria (B, C, D)
- United Kingdom (B, C)
- Venezuela (B, C)
- Crew: One
- Length: 14.36 m (47 ft 1 in)
- Wingspan: 9.13 m (29 ft)
- Height: 5.20 m (17 ft)
- Wing area: 41 m² (441.3 ft²)
- Empty weight: 7,500 kg (16,350 lb)
- Loaded weight: 13,800 kg (30,420 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 17,000 kg (37,500 lb)
- Powerplant: 1 × BMW 053 turbofan
- Dry thrust: 64.3 kN (14,500 lbf)
- Thrust with afterburner: 95.1 kN (21,400 lbf)
- Maximum speed: Mach 2.2 (2,530+ km/h, 1,500+ mph) at high altitude/ 1,110 km/h (690 mph) at low altitude
- Range: 1,550 km (837 nmi, 963 mi) with drop tanks
- Ferry range: 3,335 km (1,800 nmi, 2,073 mi) with auxiliary fuel
- Service ceiling: 17,060 m (59,000 ft)
- Rate of climb: 285 m/s (56,000 ft/min)
- Wing loading: 337 kg/m² (69 lb/ft²)
- Thrust/weight: 0.91
- Guns: Guns: 2× 27 mm (1.063 in) Mauser BK-27 revolver cannon, 125 rounds/gun
- Hardpoints: 9 total (4× under-wing, 5× under-fuselage) with a capacity of 6,300 kg (13,900 lb) external fuel and ordnance:
- Rockets: Rocket pods with 18× 68 mm rockets each
- Missiles: Radar and infra-guided air to air missiles, anti-radar missiles, anti-ship missiles, infra red/TV guided air-to-ground missile, laser guided air-to-ground missiles, or nuclear missiles (German aircraft only).
- Bombs: various unguided or laser-guided bombs or 1× nuclear bomb (German aircraft only)
- Other: ECM protection pods, Reconnaissance Pod, laser/electro-optical targeting pod, external drop tanks for extended range/loitering time