£411 Million Investment In New Missile For UK's New Jets Sustains 700 UK Jobs
(Source: UK Ministry of Defence; issued May 18, 2016)
The Ministry of Defence has awarded a £411 million contract to develop a new missile for the UK’s future F-35B supersonic stealth aircraft.

Design and development work on Spear 3 over the next 4 years will tailor the weapon for use within the internal weapons bay of F-35B, the world’s most advanced combat aircraft.

The contract secures around 350 highly skilled missile engineering jobs across MBDA’s sites in Stevenage, Bristol and Lostock, with an equivalent number of jobs in the wider supply chain, and will draw on engineering and manufacturing expertise from companies across the UK.

Spear 3 is from the same family of weapons as Brimstone, currently being used by the RAF to combat Daesh in Syria and Iraq, but it packs a bigger punch and has a significantly increased range.

The contract, with MBDA, will enable four years of critical design and development work which will tailor the weapon for use within the internal weapons bay of F-35B, the world’s most advanced combat aircraft.

It is being designed specifically for F-35B Lightning II operations launched from HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, the Royal Navy’s two £3 billion aircraft carriers.

Defence Minister Philip Dunne, said:

“This contract will give UK pilots a state-of-the-art British designed weapon to be used on board our next-generation F-35B jets, with the precision and punch that we need to give decisive operational advantage over our adversaries and keep Britain safe.

“This investment is good news not only for our pilots, but also for UK industry, safeguarding 350 highly skilled missile engineering jobs across MBDA’s sites in Stevenage, Bristol and Lostock, and an equivalent number of jobs in the wider supply chain. It has been made possible by this Government’s £178 billion commitment to the very best equipment for our Armed Forces and by our growing Defence budget.”

Spear 3 uses an innovative turbojet engine rather than a [traditional] rocket motor, giving it a range of more than 60 miles. It was successfully test fired from an MOD Typhoon in March at a range in West Wales.

The £411 million contract award follows an initial £150 million assessment phase and, if successful, it is expected that Spear 3 will enter service in the mid-2020s.

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MBDA’s SPEAR Missile Secures UK Development Contract
(Source: MBDA; issued May 19, 2016)
The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) has signed a contract worth over £400M with MBDA for the Weapon Development Phase of the SPEAR air to surface, precision strike missile. This contract will further advance MBDA’s SPEAR weapon design and builds on a successful series of technical milestones during the preceding Assessment Phase.

The contract will run through to completion during 2020 and will employ 350 highly skilled missile engineering jobs across MBDA’s sites in Stevenage, Bristol and Lostock, with an equivalent number of jobs in the wider supply chain.

The SPEAR missile is being developed to meet the UK’s Selective Precision Effects At Range Capability 3 (SPEAR 3) requirement for the UK’s F-35 aircraft, with the option to equip the Typhoon aircraft.

SPEAR will precisely engage long range, mobile, fleeting and re-locatable targets in all weathers, day or night, in the presence of countermeasures, obscurants and camouflage, whilst ensuring a safe stand-off range between the aircrew and threat air defences.

Welcoming the contract, MBDA’s Executive Group Technical Director and UK Managing Director Dave Armstrong said, “Delivering the solution for the UK’s SPEAR 3 requirement is an important programme for MBDA, and for the future operators of the F-35 in both the RAF and the Fleet Air Arm. The contract confirms SPEAR as the only weapon to meet the UK’s operational requirements. It delivers a UK sovereign capability on the F-35 that will bring the kind of precision against moving targets previously seen with Brimstone, but at stand-off ranges that give the aircrew numerous advantages in terms of operational flexibility and survivability.”

MBDA’s CEO Antoine Bouvier added “MBDA’s selection to provide SPEAR confirms the company’s position as the European leader in complex weapons and importantly positions MBDA in the international arena for the next decade with this unique precision strike capability.”

Powered by a turbojet engine, SPEAR has significant reach to ensure that the launch aircraft remains safely away from hostile air defence units. SPEAR is equipped with the latest generation multi-effects warhead, designed to meet the demands of the future combat mission.

Fitted with the latest generation multi-sensor seeker designed to operate in all combat conditions, SPEAR will be able to engage a wide range of target types both on land and sea. The weapon is being designed for operation on the F-35, and the Eurofighter Typhoon is designated to act as a trials platform for missile development. The integration of SPEAR onto Typhoon for trials enables its potential as an additional future operational platform for the weapon. The F-35 with SPEAR will be flown by both the UK’s Fleet Air Arm and Royal Air Force.

Other MBDA weapons intended for the UK’s F-35 include the ASRAAM Within Visual Range Air to Air Missile that is currently undergoing integration trials in the US and the Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile.

With a significant presence in five European countries and within the USA, in 2015 MBDA achieved a turnover of 2.9 billion euros with an order book of 15.1 billion euros. With more than 90 armed forces customers in the world, MBDA is a world leader in missiles and missile systems.

MBDA is the only European group capable of designing and producing missiles and missile systems that correspond to the full range of current and future operational needs of the three armed forces (land, sea and air). In total, the group offers a range of 45 missile systems and countermeasures products already in operational service and more than 15 others currently in development.


MBDA is jointly held by Airbus Group (37.5%), BAE Systems (37.5%), and Leonardo – Finmeccanica (25%).

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