The UK Ministry of Defence has awarded a £411m contract to develop the Spear 3 high-precision, surface-attack missile for the UK’s carrier-based F-35Bs. The contract covers design and development work over the next four years. It follows an initial £150m assessment phase and, if successful, it is expected that Spear 3 will enter service in the mid-2020s. The missile was successfully test fired from an MoD Typhoon in March at a range in West Wales.
At the Spear programme launch during Farnborough 2012, Spear was described as a low collateral damage, multi-target standoff strike weapon for multiple loadout in the internal carriage bay of the F-35. The missile is MBDA’s response to a component of the UK’s Selective Precision Effects At Range (SPEAR) air-launched requirement.
With a range out beyond 100km and high subsonic flight, the missile is designed to deal with a broad target set on land and at sea. It features a multi-mode seeker for day/night operations regardless of weather conditions, a multi-effects warhead and GPS/INS guidance with data link so that target updates can be transmitted in-flight.