Military Review

Missile complex "Spear" MBDA SPEAR 3 for F-35


SPEAR 3 rocket in flight configuration

In early January, the British Defense Department awarded MBDA a contract to test a promising SPEAR 3 air-to-surface missile in its final version, designed for F-35 fighter-bombers. After such events, the missile is planned to be put into service and put into operation.

Part of a major program

The modern design of SPEAR 3 (also known as SPEAR Capability 3 or simply SPEAR) dates back to the mid-XNUMXs. During this period, the RAF launched a major research program called Selected Precision Effects at Range (SPEAR), which aimed to update the arsenals of combat aviation... It was planned to involve various organizations and companies in the work.

The SPEAR program was divided into five areas. The first, SPEAR Capability 1, included the upgrade of the Paveway IV guided bomb. The second project in the lineup offered an upgrade to the Brimstone rocket, and has thus far led to the Brimstone 2/3 projects. Direction SPEAR Cap. 3 provided for the creation of a new guided air-to-surface missile with a multi-mode homing head and a range of at least 100 km. SPEAR 4/5 topics covered the development and then replacement of Storm Shadow missiles.

Launcher for four missiles

The SPEAR program was officially launched in 2005. Already in 2006, Lockheed Martin proposed an initiative project of a promising rocket that meets the SPEAR 3 requirements - but it has not been developed. New steps in this direction were taken later. In 2010, the Ministry of Defense and MBDA entered into several agreements on the development of various weapons. One of these was to be an air-to-surface missile meeting the SPEAR Cap requirements. 3.

Design and testing

The design of the SPEAR 3 product continued until 2015, after which the assembly of the missiles for testing began. The first test launch took place in March 2016. The serial fighter Eurofighter Typhoon was used as a carrier in these tests. Subsequently, MBDA and KVVS performed new test launches several times with various results.

In May 2016, the Ministry of Defense clarified its plans and issued a new contract to the contractor. The KVVS decided that the SPEAR 3 rocket should only be used with F-35B fighter-bombers. The MBDA company was instructed to finalize the rocket and integrate it into the armament complex of new aircraft. It took four years and £ 411 million to carry out such work. Later it became clear that other KVVS aircraft would not receive the new missile.

Installation on three products

In March 2019, the British side involved the aircraft developer, Lockheed Martin, in the work. In the coming years, a hardware and software update package was expected to enable the new rocket to be used.

Most of the work in this direction has been completed, resulting in a new contract. In early January, the Ministry of Defense ordered MBDA and subcontractors to test the SPEAR 3 rocket with a new carrier. The contract also determines the procedure for starting production and delivery of products of the first batches. The contract is designed for seven years, and its cost is 550 million pounds.

Technical features

The MBDA SPEAR 3 missile in the proposed form is an aircraft weapon designed to engage a wide range of ground targets, stationary and mobile. In all the main characteristics, this product should surpass the serial Brimstone missile, incl. its modernized versions.

Rockets on the Typhoon fighter. Now he is not considered as their carrier.

The SPEAR 3 rocket is built in a cylindrical body approx. 1,8 m and a diameter of 180 mm. The head fairing is made transparent to ensure the operation of the combined seeker. Above there is a developed gargrot with attachment points for the folding wing. There are three rudders in the tail. The mass of the rocket is less than 100 kg.

An original seeker with infrared, radar and laser target search was developed especially for SPEAR 3. There are also inertial and satellite navigation for flight to the target area. The control system has means of two-way communication with the carrier and can operate in network structures. It is possible to use the missile according to the "fire-and-forget" scheme or with constant data exchange, incl. with in-flight retargeting and communication between multiple missiles.

In the central part of the missile body is a warhead called Intensive Munitions. The possibility of programming the fuse and several options for influencing the target are stated. Also, the developer talks about an increase in power in comparison with "conventional" high-explosive fragmentation warheads and a reduction in collateral damage.

Missile drop from F-35B

The tail is equipped with a small-sized Whitney AeroPower TJ-150-3 turbojet engine. The air intakes are located on the sides of the hull and have no protruding parts. A high subsonic flight speed was declared, but the exact parameters were not named. The flight range exceeds 100-130 km. According to some estimates, it is possible to obtain a range of up to 140-150 km.

Possible modifications

On the basis of the air-to-surface missile, other products can be created. So, the SPEAR-EW jamming rocket is proposed. Instead of a warhead and a regular seeker, it should carry a Britecloud electronic warfare station. Free volumes are given for an additional supply of fuel, which triples the flight range.

Also proposed is the SPEAR-Glide guided glide bomb. It will differ from the rocket in the absence of an engine and modified electronics. The saved volumes can be used to increase the warhead and the corresponding increase in power.

Advertising materials from MBDA featured a proposal to create a rocket for fleet... This version of the SPEAR should be launched from a universal vertical launcher and hit surface or coastal targets.

The prospects for new SPEAR 3 modifications are not yet fully clear. The KVVS are interested in the jamming missile, and in the future they may be interested in the guided bomb. Whether there will be an order to continue the development of the ship version is unknown. At the same time, firm agreements exist only for the basic air-to-surface missile.

Prospects for operation

During the first tests, the SPEAR 3 carrier was a Typhoon fighter, but they refused to fully operate missiles with such an aircraft. In the near future, it will only be used on F-35B fighters. Already this year, new tests are expected to start, which will show the compatibility of the rocket with its standard carrier.

Over the next few years, it is planned to complete all the necessary measures and launch a full-fledged series, as a result of which the SPEAR 3 will become the standard armament of the British F-35B. It is curious that such aircraft enter into joint operation in the KVVS and KVMF. This means that the new missile will simultaneously hit two branches of the military.

Recently, it has been repeatedly mentioned that in the future the SPEAR 3 rocket will be able to enter the range of ammunition for the next generation Tempest fighter, and such predictions look plausible. By the time this aircraft appears, the SPEAR 3 rocket will have time to become one of the main - and newest - models in service with the KVVS.

However, so far all efforts are focused on integrating the existing missile into the armament complex of the existing aircraft. British and American specialists are involved in these works, and most of them have already been completed. Now it is necessary to conduct tests that will confirm the declared characteristics and capabilities - and launch new stages of rearmament.
Photos used:
MBDA, Wikimedia Commons
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  1. OgnennyiKotik
    OgnennyiKotik 18 January 2021 18: 04
    Uh, 2 days ago there was the same article, in the same heading.
    1. Couchexpert
      Couchexpert 18 January 2021 18: 11
      Well, this is a military review? Here is for the military "2 times and slowly."
      1. Alien From
        Alien From 18 January 2021 18: 42
        It's fourteen o'clock in Moscow, the announcer said aloud, but for the military the announcer repeated again, the big arrow at twelve, the small one at two, of course, the military responded sternly! )))) a little humor laughing hi
    2. English tarantas
      English tarantas 19 January 2021 04: 46
      Comrade Ryabov once again spread along the tree in a rush of mixing and copywriting. Don't be discouraged, I also thought in this article they would tell in detail about the wonderful rocket, but no.
  2. Ryaruav
    Ryaruav 18 January 2021 18: 50
    we need the latest rar and rab systems more than ever, simply because of the lag in the means of attack
    1. Intruder
      Intruder 21 January 2021 10: 12
      systems rar and rab simply because of the lag in means of attack
      for reasons of lag, we need the latest systems in many places ..., not only rab and rar! recourse
  3. Cool but not Igor
    Cool but not Igor 18 January 2021 19: 23
    It is unclear how such a small rocket will be able to cover such long distances?
    1. V.I.P.
      V.I.P. 18 January 2021 19: 38
      Probably new fuel, new engine, improved aerodynamics ... But the Typhoon with 20 (or 22 ??) missiles is impressive. There are really no analogues in the world good laughing and the launchers for 3 and 4 rockets are also good. It is not clear why they do not want to use it
      1. OgnennyiKotik
        OgnennyiKotik 18 January 2021 19: 44
        You can also like this:

        Extreme modernization will allow everyone B-52 carry over one hundred and ten 130 kg small diameter bombs (SDB-Small Diameter Bomb, also known as GBU-39 / B)
        1. V.I.P.
          V.I.P. 18 January 2021 19: 51
          There are 15 missiles on F-24 ... Ours never dreamed of this)))
          1. Ka-52
            Ka-52 19 January 2021 09: 38
            Ours never dreamed of this)))

            did not dream what?
    2. Sckepsis
      Sckepsis 20 January 2021 07: 40
      Now stupidly winged bombs, without an engine at all, press for 100 km.
      1. Intruder
        Intruder 21 January 2021 10: 18
        without an engine at all, they are pressing for 100 km.
        of course, in essence, the application of modern glider technologies and advanced avionics capabilities in a gliding flight mode, for this ammunition in all its glory ...
    3. Intruder
      Intruder 21 January 2021 10: 14
      can a small rocket cover such great distances?
      low weight, economical engine, high aerodynamic quality and no magic bully
  4. Angry
    Angry 19 January 2021 11: 47
    Hmm .... the air defense crisis is ripe. When dozens or even hundreds of them will go to our facilities, and in particular to ships ... it will not seem a little. We need something, a cheap and small-sized air defense system, such as a RAM or an "Iron Dome". Probably the simplest thing is to take the Grad MLRS, change their heads and turn them into an air defense complex MD. With a flight range of these NURS 40 km, then in the air defense option, probably a radius of 10 km, these anti-aircraft missiles will provide? With a diameter of 122 mm, if necessary, the head of MANPADS will also become there ... In addition, on their basis, it is possible to create explosive aircraft missiles for arming helicopters and drones.
    1. Intruder
      Intruder 21 January 2021 10: 16
      Probably the simplest thing is to take the Grad MLRS, change their heads and turn them into an air defense complex MD
      and where else can I get this hypothetical GOS?, plus a means of detecting a swarm of similar jamming missiles, an OMS for MLRS, we also need our own ... and further down the list request
  5. Alexey Zigalov
    Alexey Zigalov 19 January 2021 19: 27
    Kirill more thanks for the article. You coolly gave an analysis of what is more important a carrier, or a weapon. Thus, from the 16th year, there was a concept and systematically made a rocket. The rocket is 100 kg and can be placed on the L.A. We have already lost the main conquest of air superiority. The war is not won by the number of ditched population. It is won by the reproduction of weapons and technically finished production. Engineers.
    1. Intruder
      Intruder 21 January 2021 10: 20
      It is won by the reproduction of weapons and technically finished production. Engineers.
      and not only, even by the cleaners of industrial premises, or by the presence of robotic vacuum cleaners ... wink
    2. onstar9
      onstar9 23 January 2021 08: 23
      Quote: Alexey Zigalov
      Kirill more thanks for the article. You coolly gave an analysis of what is more important a carrier, or a weapon. Thus, from the 16th year, there was a concept and systematically made a rocket. The rocket is 100 kg and can be placed on the L.A. We have already lost the main conquest of air superiority. The war is not won by the number of ditched population. It is won by the reproduction of weapons and technically finished production. Engineers.

      I think most of those who write here do not understand the real situation of confrontation between Russia and the West in military terms at the present time. Everyone here lives in the era of Soviet times, when the USSR and the West were IDEOLOGICAL opponents, and wanted to fight each other. They had capitalism, and we had socialism. We wanted socialism to be everywhere in the world, and they wanted "capitalism". Back then, our leaders did not need "Putin's palaces" and other "rags". Therefore, they were sincerely against the West. What now? What are "our leaders" headed by Putin against? Against the West? But we also have capitalism now. There is no ideological confrontation. Why, then, would Putin and our elite fight the West? But what about all their billions and villas abroad, and in the West? All those Courchevels? No, of course, they are not at all against the West. The West allowed them to live as "sweet" and gorgeous as they had never seen before. USSR Secretary General - Brezhnev was a beggar compared to the mayor of some Russian "Uryupinsk". How can they give up the West and live like officials in some North Korea. So they don't want to. On the contrary, they want to be on friendly terms with the West. Putin and our elite entered the West, bathed in their society, in their meetings and balls. And they really liked it. It's just that at the moment, because of some political moments, the West fell out with Putin. "Ivan Ivanovich quarreled with Ivan Nikitich", nothing else. There is no ideological enmity. Mutual "kicking" began, as is usually the case in quarrels. But Putin and our elite really want to return to the old communication. Nobody wants to go to China, despite the fact that China is our friend and throughout Russia it supports and invites everyone to come. Putin and his elite do not want to "snuggle" to China, because in the West they are equal, and in China there will be "subordinates" of the totalitarian Xin Ziping. Does Putin need it? Any time Russia makes peace with the West, Putin will return to them. That is why Putin does not want and does not intend to fight the West. Because he wants to enjoy Western values. What about China? Another totalitarian regime, when they can "bend" at any time, if the leader Xin Ziping pleases. Putin knows this very well, so he does not seriously want to arm himself. He just wants to "scare" the West to stop persecuting him and return the relationship to the ass. For this, various "scarecrows that have no analogues" are created, but this does not go into the mass business. Here the readers of Voennoe Obozreniye want to fight more than Putin and all his wealthy elite. They don't need it, they have families, palaces, billions there. And ordinary Russians have nothing, and out of malice they consider the West to be the culprit and want to "sweep it aside". Putin has to restrain the "brutalized" Russians who are ready to fight. For what, however, it is not clear ...
  6. Outsider
    Outsider 27 January 2021 12: 45
    Quote: Cool but not Igor
    It is unclear how such a small rocket will be able to cover such long distances?

    - Due to the fact that this rocket will be launched from the same heights from which SDBs are dropped, where there is no engine. And they fly, when dropped from an altitude of 11 km, at a distance of 110 km. This rocket will fly a little farther, depending heavily on the drop height.
  7. Outsider
    Outsider 27 February 2021 06: 03
    Quote: Sckepsis
    Now stupidly winged bombs, without an engine at all, press for 100 km.

    - And this rocket adds another hundred to these 100 km. Those. it can be launched not only by a stealth plane, but also by an ordinary fighter. without entering the air defense zone - like that F-15E with twenty such missiles.
    This is actually the same GBU-53B, into which they managed to squeeze, with the same dimensions of 1.8 m in length (limited by the holder), a miniature turbojet engine and a fuel tank.
  8. sinoptic
    sinoptic 3 March 2021 17: 00
    Little by little, the adversary is learning to overcome our air defense systems through the massive use of high-precision weapons. Let's put it bluntly, after one plane launches 16 missiles at once, from 100 km (and there can be 5 or 10 carriers in an attack), not a single Armor or Thor will cope with such a load, and for the S-400 it seems like a target not that scale.
    Therefore, the Americans are bragging about, they say: "The most advanced Russian air defense systems do not care for us."