UK buys SPEAR 3 to arm naval aircraft
The UK MoD has placed a £550 million order for the Selective Precision Effects At Range (SPEAR) 3 air-to-surface missile, under its Team Complex Weapons agreement between the MoD and MBDA.
SPEAR 3 will arm the F-35B STOVL aircraft carried aboard the UK RN’s Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.
The high-subsonic missile is powered by a turbojet engine. It is 1.8m long with a range of more than 140km.
‘Its ability to attack moving targets will enhance the UK’s future combat air capability,’ the MoD announced on 6 January.
Under the terms of the seven-year demonstration and manufacturing contract with MBDA, guided firings of SPEAR will begin within 18 months from a Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft, with missile and launcher production beginning in 2023.
‘The new contract follows the successful implementation of the weapon development phase contract for SPEAR placed in 2016 and the contracting of integration of SPEAR onto F-35 in 2019,’ MBDA noted.
A total of 21 F-35Bs are in UK service out of 48 on order to date, with plans in place to buy 138 in all. The aircraft recently passed the IOC milestone for the RN; later in 2021, F-35s will sail with HMS Queen Elizabeth on her maiden carrier strike group deployment.
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