MBDA, Europe’s leading missile systems company, is unveiling SPEAR, a new, high precision surface attack weapon for fast combat aircraft at this year’s Farnborough International Air Show. SPEAR is the solution being proposed by MBDA to meet the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) requirement for a network centric, low collateral damage, multi-target stand off strike weapon for multiple loadout in the internal carriage bay of its future fleet of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. With a range out beyond 100km and, high sub-sonic flight, SPEAR is capable of dealing with an extremely broad target set ranging from fast moving manoeuvring vehicles including main battle tanks (MBTs), hardened structures, air defence units and missile launchers to naval vessels. In fulfilling the UK requirement, SPEAR is unique in providing such a range of capabilities in such a high loadout weapon system.
A very compact missile measuring approximately 2m in length, SPEAR features a multi-mode seeker for operations during either day or night operations regardless of weather conditions, a multi-effects warhead and GPS/INS guidance with a data link so that target updates can be transmitted during the missile’s flight. The missile’s high precision will ensure that it is compliant with increasingly complex and demanding rules of engagement. A turbojet propulsion unit provides the high velocity necessary to strike time sensitive targets before they can inflict damage or take cover. Though not network dependent, SPEAR will be compatible within an NEC (Network Enabled Capability) framework.
Describing SPEAR, Executive Group Director Technical and MBDA UK Managing Director Steve Wadey said: “A weapon like SPEAR is vital for the future multi-role missions of the F-35 because it maximises the network and sensor potential provided by the aircraft and maximises enhanced aircrew survivability in hostile airspace. I also think it to be indispensable for a number of other combat aircraft aspiring to a true multi-role capability. In this respect, and based on extremely enthusiastic feedback from our global customer base, I am very confident that SPEAR has the potential of making a very significant impact on the export market.”
SPEAR draws its name from the UK MoD’s Selected Precision Effects At Range capability requirements and specifically the Capability 3 requirement. Currently in the Assessment Phase, SPEAR is managed as part of the interim Portfolio Management Agreement (PMA-I) that was signed between MBDA and the UK MoD in March 2010. The PMA enables the UK MoD to contract with MBDA for a range of programmes and is a key means to transform the way MoD and MBDA deliver Complex Weapons capabilities for the UK’s armed forces.