Military Review

British guided air-to-surface missile SPEAR 3

22
British guided air-to-surface missile SPEAR 3
SPEAR 3 missile and its carriers - Typhoon and F-35B



Since the beginning of the last decade, the British branch of the European company MBDA has been developing a promising air-launched cruise missile SPEAR 3. By now, this project has entered one of the final stages, and its real results are expected in the very near future. In accordance with previously defined plans, next year the serial missiles of a new type should enter service with the Royal Air Force and the British Navy. However, the project may have run into difficulties and there is a risk of some kind of delay.

Lingering development


Back in 2010, the KVVS and the marine aviation The UK Navy released the performance requirements for the advanced air-to-surface missile Selected Precision Effects At Range Capability 3 (SPEAR 3). Soon there was a contract for the development of such weapons. The executor of the work was MBDA UK, the British branch of a European international organization.

According to the original plans, by 2014 the SPEAR 3 project was supposed to enter the stage of flight tests of mock-ups. Then the start of full-fledged development was expected, which took several more years. In the absence of difficulties, the finished missile could go into production and enter service in 2018. As is now known, these plans could not be fulfilled.

MBDA UK managed the first stage of development in a few years and began preparations for testing. To do this, in June 2014, she received an additional contract for the integration of a new missile into the weapons system of the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter. This work did not take long, and in the same year, the Typhoon became the carrier of demonstrator rockets and ensured the first tests.

As a result of these events, in May 2016, MBDA UK received a contract for the full development of a new rocket. These works were estimated at 411 million pounds. In 2019, an additional contract appeared, according to which the contractor must integrate the new missile into the weapons system of the F-35B fighter.


In general, the SPEAR 3 project was moving forward successfully, although the actual pace of work differed significantly from early plans and forecasts. So, it was not possible to complete the development and establish a series before 2018, and the terms for adoption into service gradually shifted to the beginning of the twenties.

The final stage


In January 2021, the UK Ministry of Defense issued another contract to MBDA UK. For 550 million pounds, the contractor must complete the development of a promising missile and establish its mass production. Within 18 months after the signing of the contract (until July 2022 inclusive), full-scale flight tests were required to begin.

MBDA UK has not yet announced the start of flight tests. Apparently, the company failed to meet the deadlines, and preparations for the launch of full-fledged experimental products are still ongoing. How soon such tests will begin and how long it will take is unknown.

The current difficulties may lead to a new shift in the timing. The fact is that already in 2023, the British KVVS and KVMF were going to take the new SPEAR 3 missile into service and include it in the ammunition load of the Typhoon and F-35B fighters. It is likely that these plans will not be fulfilled, and the operation of missiles will begin only in 2024-25.

Deep upgrade


From a technical point of view, the promising air-to-surface missile SPEAR 3 is a deep modernization of the existing Brimstone product. Due to certain improvements in the original design and the use of new components, it was planned to improve all the main characteristics and get new features and modes of operation.


F-35B aircraft with SPEAR 3 and Meteor missiles on internal sling

The new rocket is made in a cylindrical body with a length of 1,8 m and a diameter of 180 mm. There is a transparent head fairing for homing heads. An upper flat fairing is provided, to which folding planes are attached. In the tail there is plumage from several planes and rudders. The layout is traditional for such weapons. The head compartment is given to the guidance means, behind them is the warhead, and the engine is placed in the tail. The starting weight of the product does not exceed 100 kg.

Combined control and guidance systems have been developed for SPEAR 3. The autopilot of the rocket has the means of inertial and satellite navigation. It is also associated with an active millimeter-wave radar homing head, a semi-active laser and infrared seeker. The rocket has communication equipment and can exchange data with the carrier.

In the future, it is planned to develop devices and software for the group use of missiles in the “swarm” mode. Products will have to exchange information about the goals, distribute them among themselves and respond to changing conditions.

In the tail section of the hull is placed a small-sized short-life turbojet engine Hamilton Sundstrand TJ-150; air intakes are brought to the sides of the rocket. With such an engine, SPEAR 3 will be able to reach high subsonic speeds. Depending on the launch altitude and carrier speed, a flight range of up to 130-140 km will be achieved.

There are several options for combat load. First of all, the rocket receives a high-explosive fragmentation charge. A modification of the SPEAR EW (Electronic Warfare) with an onboard active jamming station is also being developed. It is assumed that such products will be used together with combat missiles and will help them break through the enemy's air defenses.


The SPEAR 3 missile is intended for the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy, which determines the range of its future carriers. During the tests, the first carrier of such weapons was the Typhoon fighter. After the next upgrade, combat aircraft will receive similar opportunities. Each of them will be able to carry up to 16 missiles of a new type.

The second carrier of SPEAR 3 will be the F-35B carrier-based fighter. The missiles will be placed in internal cargo bays, up to four each. It is also possible to use an external suspension, but such an increase in ammunition will negatively affect other characteristics.

Perhaps in the future, the SPEAR 3 rocket will be of interest to foreign customers. In this regard, MBDA will have to integrate it into the weapons systems of other aircraft. However, the current trends in the development of foreign military aviation are such that the needs of many customers can be met by deploying missiles only on the F-35.

Expected Benefits


The goal of the current SPEAR 3 project is to create a promising air-to-surface missile with improved performance characteristics. If MBDA UK copes with all the technical challenges, then the Royal Air Force and the British Royal Navy will receive weapons with special capabilities that compare favorably with the products currently available.

One of the main advantages of the finished SPEAR 3 rocket will be its high flight range. It will be one of the longest-range air-to-surface weapons available to ground and naval aviation, and their operational capabilities will improve.


Jamming missile SPEAR-EW

Of particular importance is the new control system with three different seekers and two navigation methods. It will provide a flight to a given area with subsequent search and defeat of the target. In this case, it is possible to attack stationary and moving targets, both with known coordinates, and with an independent search or by external target designation. The flexibility of the SPEAR 3 will be higher than that of other missiles.

The new missile is being created taking into account plans for the development of military aviation, which is also of great importance. It was originally designed for use on advanced aircraft, taking into account their capabilities and limitations. Thanks to this, the SPEAR 3 product, together with the F-35, will be able to remain in service for a long time and show the required characteristics.

However, there are serious shortcomings. The main one is the total complexity of the project. The need to create and test various devices and software has already led to postponements, and it cannot be ruled out that such events will happen again. In addition, the complexity of the rocket increases its cost. The price of a serial product has not yet been disclosed, but it can be expected that it will not be cheaper than existing samples of its class.

Uncertain Future


Thus, the UK continues to develop the new SPEAR 3 aircraft missile and expects to get all the desired results in the very near future. According to the previously announced plans, full-fledged flight tests were to take place now, and next year mass production and deployment of missiles among the troops will start.

However, the start of testing has not yet been reported, which indicates the presence of some difficulties and another delay. How serious these difficulties are and whether it will be possible to cope with them within the established time frame is not known. However, it can be expected that MBDA UK will make every effort to fulfill the existing order as soon as possible. Whether she will be able to cope with the tasks, time will tell.
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MBDA UK
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  1. GRAFIN_32
    GRAFIN_32 14 December 2022 05: 53
    +3
    Nice rocket. Of course, the range for the 4th generation is not enough in modern realities, but for the 5th it is very good and fits perfectly. BC also inspires respect. Of course, the deadlines are not only lame here, but the British rivet them as much as necessary. Of course, not without looking back at evil Russia. Now this is a weighty argument for them. I hope we will also begin high-precision riveting. Fed up with blanks on fighters ...
  2. Eule
    Eule 14 December 2022 11: 12
    -1
    Another wildly expensive missile with a warhead of less than 50 kg. Either there is a replaceable atomic warhead for it, or again the budget is being cut.
    The delivery dates failed, field tests for the authors of the "covid restrictions" were not carried out.
    1. Introvert
      Introvert 14 December 2022 19: 59
      -1
      Quote: eule
      Another wildly expensive missile with a warhead of less than 50 kg. Either there is a replaceable atomic warhead for it, or again the budget is being cut.

      Of course they are sawing, even as they are sawing, it’s really not clear how they will succeed in sawing and giving out performance characteristics?

      Because our non-sawing, with large dimensions, dimensions and weight, could only do this:
      Characteristics of the LMUR rocket ("Product 305E"):
      Longest range - 14,5 km (9 miles)
      Maximum flight speed - 447 knots (230 m/s)
      Flight altitude - 100–600 meters (328–1969 ft)
      Weight - 105 kg (231 lb)
      Warhead weight - 25 kg (55 lb)
      Length - 1945 mm (76,6 inches)
      Case diameter - 200 mm (7,9 inches)
      Price - 220k green for yourself (for 2018) and much more expensive for export.

      And the price didn't seem to be more expensive.
      1. Sith
        Sith 14 December 2022 21: 22
        0
        So the performance characteristics are still secret ... because no one will announce them before use ...
        Now these are only the numbers that the customer wanted
      2. MinskFox
        MinskFox 15 December 2022 00: 03
        0
        It’s very smart to compare a rocket for a helicopter and a rocket for an airplane) And, yes, for Russia the product is 306, and 305 is export and you painted the characteristics specifically for export. And it was also put into service and is fighting, and the British did not even pass the test. And I doubt that the development price is comparable. So temper your sarcasm.
        1. Introvert
          Introvert 15 December 2022 02: 25
          -2
          Quote: MinskFox
          It's very smart to compare a rocket for a helicopter and a rocket for an airplane)

          And that + -100 kg and that, and the British one is lighter and shorter. And what technically prevents it from hanging on a turntable, except for the desire of the customer? Moreover, it seems to be on a promising European helicopter.
          Quote: MinskFox
          And, yes, for Russia the product is 306, and 305 is export and you painted the characteristics specifically for export.

          I don’t want to upset you, but it’s 305 that suits itself, and 306 is just another type of warhead.
          Quote: MinskFox
          And it was also put into service and is fighting, and the British did not even pass the test. And I doubt that the development price is comparable. So temper your sarcasm.

          And she had just adopted weapons and hadn’t really fought anywhere yet. The Spear 3 is actually a Brimstone upgrade that has been flying for who knows how long.
          Quote: MinskFox
          And I doubt that the development price is comparable. So temper your sarcasm.

          And I didn’t talk about the price of development, although if they didn’t burn out and searched, they would have found: development + -800 million pounds, and the rocket itself is 200k pounds.
          So what are you talking about sarcasm?
          1. MinskFox
            MinskFox 15 December 2022 08: 37
            +1
            If you launch from an airplane, the range greatly increases, so that you are aware. Launching a spear from a helicopter, it will not fly 100 km. I'm not upset, 305e is an export version. I repeat, for Russia 306. Your performance characteristics are for exactly 305e. And she began to fight in 2016 in Syria. And the spear, even if it is a modernization, has not passed the test and is not in service. You add the cost of the rocket and the modernization of its carriers to the number of missiles for 200k pounds - you will get approximately the cost of the program. At the same time, 220k greenery is just the price of an export model, the price for the Russian army is unknown. And yes, £200k is over $220k, just in case. Again, temper your sarcasm.
            1. Introvert
              Introvert 15 December 2022 11: 33
              0
              Quote: MinskFox
              If you launch from an airplane, the range greatly increases, so that you are aware.

              10 times?))) I kind of know, and you? I understand that the elastic band from panties is stretched, but not 10 times)))
              Quote: MinskFox
              Launching a spear from a helicopter, it will not fly 100 km.

              140 of course not, but even a 3-fold decrease in the radius, although I strongly doubt that there will be a drop of more than 30%, it will give almost 50 km against 14))
              Quote: MinskFox
              I repeat, for Russia 306. Your performance characteristics are for exactly 305e. And she began to fight in 2016 in Syria.

              As they say proofs in the studio. For now, it's just your imagination.
              Quote: MinskFox
              You add the cost of the rocket and the modernization of its carriers to the number of missiles for 200k pounds - you will get approximately the cost of the program.

              Man ay, welcome. Did I write above, or did you not read as usual? The program is separate, the rocket is separate. For the buyer, the PRICE of the product is announced. and she's about 200k pounds.
              Quote: MinskFox
              At the same time, 220k greenery is just the price of an export model, the price for the Russian army is unknown. And yes, £200k is over $220k, just in case. Again, temper your sarcasm.

              ahaha, funny, given that it was indicated that 220 is the price for YOURSELF))) ROCKETS. And for export it’s more expensive.))) Again, we don’t read the sources and just fantasize?)) And yes, 200k pounds is more expensive than almost 230 thousand dollars but not much))) but this is in dollars for 2018, and now 2022 is ending, and again for YOURSELF, and there the price was indicated FOR EVERYONE)) And by the way, if you are so knowledgeable here, how much did the LMUR development program cost? something tells me for such a number of years ... it is comparable)) Well, so what kind of sarcasm is that?
              1. Johnson Smithson
                Johnson Smithson 15 December 2022 13: 32
                +1
                10 times?))) I kind of know, and you? I understand that the elastic band from panties is stretched, but not 10 times)))

                you compare bananas to apples
                LMUR is a rocket, and SPEAR 3 is a cruise missile, you don’t understand the difference at all? LMUR has a rocket engine, SPEAR 3 has a turbojet, and therefore a different distance

                SPEAR 3 must be compared with other cruise missiles that we fly at 2000-3000 km
                1. Introvert
                  Introvert 15 December 2022 20: 00
                  0
                  Quote from Johnson Smithson
                  you compare bananas to apples
                  LMUR is a rocket, and SPEAR 3 is a cruise missile, you don’t understand the difference at all?

                  Yes, I totally understand. I don’t understand HOW similar samples are being developed in Russia without regard to what is being done in the West ???? It was outdated even before it was born into the world. The same (almost) weight and dimensions, but the difference in performance characteristics and capabilities is like between formula-1 and a penny, and for almost the same price.

                  Quote from Johnson Smithson
                  LMUR has a rocket engine, SPEAR 3 has a turbojet, and therefore a different distance

                  No matter how yes, there is such a thing, only one nuance ... It’s purple for pilots what kind of engine is there, but it’s not purple to be able to avoid unnecessary risk. And what kind of rocket would you choose for yourself as a pilot? the one that you launch without entering the coverage area of ​​almost any air defense, or the one that needs to be launched almost point-blank?

                  Quote from Johnson Smithson
                  SPEAR 3 must be compared with other cruise missiles that we fly at 2000-3000 km

                  Well, let's compare which of the cruise missiles can be suspended on a MiG-29 or Su-27-30-35 aircraft, in the amount of a couple of dozen? or for a helicopter 10-12 pieces? And then measure everything by a long, such a thing, then everything must be compared with the ICBM)))
              2. MinskFox
                MinskFox 15 December 2022 13: 39
                0
                Comparable??? 800 million pounds?))) 220 is the price of the export version, the price for the Russian army is unknown, refute it, man, if you can. It’s great to calculate the cost of a rocket, and not the entire program, but oh well, it’s even better to compare a helicopter rocket and an airplane, it’s not just about speed. And also, how do you deal with the price of a weapon that has not even passed the test, tell me huh?
                1. The comment was deleted.
                  1. MinskFox
                    MinskFox 16 December 2022 10: 12
                    0
                    Suddenly, the SU 57 was put into service, according to open sources, the development figure is 1.65 billion. evergreen, spear 800 million pounds, and not accepted for service. This is for you about the comparability of numbers. Well, open sources bmpd blog, mmm, man, tell me where did he get some information from? It’s all on the neck, I’ll write to you on the blog that it’s worth a trillion, will you refer to this as proof?) The price is determined by the contract, for example, the figure was named according to su 57. Well, come on, unlimited, imagine the price of the contract for lmur) I I perfectly understand the mechanism of pricing the final product, unlike you, I also know the formation of the cost of the program. If you don't understand what it's about, that's your problem. And also compare nurses with 8 and a guided missile. Yes, you are just a genius, to compare different things, consider that you compared a tank and an infantry fighting vehicle.
                    1. Introvert
                      Introvert 16 December 2022 16: 17
                      -2
                      Sanya, as usual, you contradict yourself and don't even notice)))
                      Quote: MinskFox
                      Suddenly, the SU 57 was put into service, according to open sources, the development figure is 1.65 billion

                      Suddenly, its price was announced BEFORE ADOPTION))) for you all of a sudden. But you read diagonally as usual. And SUDDENLY, acceptance does not mean the end of the TEST, they both went on and on)))
                      Quote: MinskFox
                      Well, open sources bmpd blog, mmm, man, tell me where did he get some information from?

                      mmm man, tell me, are you completely unable to search and analyze? well, at least a little? a little bit? If you are already writing something and are interested in military topics, then you should know certain resources and "bmpd" is one of them. From where "he" neighed, thanks))))
                      Quote: MinskFox
                      She's all on the neck

                      On the neck))) people come back to reality, the price has NEVER been a neck, with the exception of some cases, but this is NOT THE case))) When the product is originally planned for export - the PRICE IS ALWAYS VOICED.
                      Quote: MinskFox
                      I’ll write to you on a blog that it’s worth a trillion, will you refer to this as proof?)

                      And who are you))) no one can call in any way))) unlike bmpd, Bastion, and some others))
                      Quote: MinskFox
                      The price is determined by the contract, for example, the figure was called according to su 57. Well, come on, unlimited, imagine the price of the contract for lmur)

                      This is a new word in economics and finance)))
                      Quote: MinskFox
                      I perfectly understand the mechanism of the formation of the price of the final product, unlike you, I also know the formation of the cost of the program. If you don't understand what you're talking about, that's your problem.

                      Well, yes, yes, I see)))
                      Quote: MinskFox
                      And also compare nurses with 8 and a guided missile. Yes, you are just a genius, to compare different things, consider that you compared a tank and an infantry fighting vehicle.

                      Well, another confirmation that you and the topic of discussion are somewhere in parallel. and do not intersect from the word at all.)
                      1. MinskFox
                        MinskFox 16 December 2022 18: 25
                        0
                        Quote: Introvert
                        Sanya, as usual, you contradict yourself and don't even notice)))

                        How am I contradicting myself?
                        Quote: Introvert
                        Suddenly, its price was announced BEFORE ADOPTION))) for you all of a sudden. But you read diagonally as usual. And SUDDENLY, acceptance does not mean the end of the TEST, they both went on and on)))

                        For the model adopted for service, the tests are completed, point, it is being operated. New systems are being tested - not accepted for service, weapons or engines of the second stage, etc. It's funny not to know such elementary things)
                        Quote: Introvert
                        mmm man, tell me, are you completely unable to search and analyze? well, at least a little? a little bit? If you are already writing something and are interested in military topics, then you should know certain resources and "bmpd" is one of them. From where "he" neighed, thanks))))

                        Yes, please, is this your level of analytics? The cost of LMUR is not publicly available, and your bloggers do not have information about it, because they do not have access to this information, and if there was and he divulged it, he would already be resting in jail, and since he is not resting, we conclude - The price quoted by him is not true)))
                        Quote: Introvert
                        On the neck))) people come back to reality, the price has NEVER been a neck, with the exception of some cases, but this is NOT THE case))) When the product is originally planned for export - the PRICE IS ALWAYS VOICED.

                        You can ridicule my use of the wrong union with the word vulture, I will only say that Russian is my second language, but it is unlikely that you will be able to communicate with me in my native language, or in some foreign language. I. yes, so you agree that 305e is an export version? Then what was it for
                        Quote: Introvert
                        I don’t want to upset you, but it’s 305 that suits itself, and 306 is just another type of warhead.
                        Strong of course)))
                        Quote: Introvert
                        This is a new word in economics and finance)))

                        This is not a new word, this is a market and the price of the same product may be different for different countries and the price is determined precisely by the contract, citizen economist)))
                        Quote: Introvert
                        Well, another confirmation that you and the topic of discussion are somewhere in parallel. and do not intersect from the word at all.)

                        Well, refute it)
                      2. Introvert
                        Introvert 16 December 2022 19: 10
                        -2
                        Quote: MinskFox
                        How am I contradicting myself?

                        Re-read your posts))) I'm tired)
                        Quote: MinskFox
                        For the model adopted for service, the tests are completed, point, it is being operated. New systems are being tested - not accepted for service, weapons or engines of the second stage, etc. It's funny not to know such elementary things)

                        Really. Funny. Only again with you.))) really elementary things... where the hell did you fall from with your level of knowledge.
                        Quote: MinskFox
                        Yes, please, is this your level of analytics? The cost of LMUR is not publicly available, and your bloggers do not have information about it, because they do not have access to this information, and if there was and he divulged it, he would already be resting in jail, and since he is not resting, we conclude - The price quoted by him is not true)))

                        Funny, aren't you tired of ruffling already? secret price ... probably for the price it is possible to find out all the secret performance characteristics ... as I understand it, you are again too lazy to just see what this "blog" is. well, not your level of kindergarten.
                        Quote: MinskFox
                        This is not a new word, this is a market and the price of the same product may be different for different countries and the price is determined precisely by the contract, citizen economist)))

                        Alternative economy?))) 2*2=5))))
                        Quote: MinskFox
                        Well, refute it)

                        What to refute?)))) your statement?))) people au logic where))) you just once again confirmed my words)))
                        PS: And yes, LMUR, it’s also 305E adopted by the RA and it can also be sold for export 2in1, there is no separate missile for the RF Armed Forces, they took what it was))) calm down already with your 306, it’s not there, for now anyway. Go read something on the subject. and it's boring to talk.
                      3. MinskFox
                        MinskFox 16 December 2022 20: 12
                        0
                        Quote: Introvert
                        What to refute?)))) your statement?))) people au logic where))) you just once again confirmed my words)))
                        PS: And yes, LMUR, it’s also 305E adopted by the RA and it can also be sold for export 2in1, there is no separate missile for the RF Armed Forces, they took what it was))) calm down already with your 306, it’s not there, for now anyway. Go read something on the subject. and it's boring to talk.

                        Is there anything to say about the case? Not? Drain protected, free)
                      4. Introvert
                        Introvert 16 December 2022 23: 04
                        -2
                        Quote: MinskFox
                        Is there anything to say about the case? Not? Drain protected, free)

                        Yes, you really have nothing to say)) good luck. fantasize less and read more)
              3. Herman 4223
                Herman 4223 16 January 2023 11: 27
                0
                “10 times?))) I kind of know, and you? I understand that the elastic band from panties stretches but not 10 times)))”
                What surprises you? A body dropped from a height of 4 km will fall for 28 seconds, and from a height of 17 km 58 seconds. And all that time, the falling object will fly at the speed of the carrier (of course, slowing down a little due to the atmosphere, but not much). The plane can accelerate 6-8 times faster than the helicopter, and the altitude gives more than 30 seconds of extra time. It is easy to calculate that a free-falling bomb from aircraft will fly a greater distance than a rocket from a helicopter. hi
      3. Johnson Smithson
        Johnson Smithson 15 December 2022 13: 27
        +2
        And where does the LMUR, which was made by order of the FSB, and not the military?
        it is for special operations and the fight against terrorism, not for war

        they write to you about this that she has a small warhead, and you take it and compare it with a rocket for the FSB
        1. Introvert
          Introvert 15 December 2022 20: 33
          -2
          Quote from Johnson Smithson
          And where does the LMUR, which was made by order of the FSB, and not the military?
          it is for special operations and the fight against terrorism, not for war

          they write to you about this that she has a small warhead, and you take it and compare it with a rocket for the FSB

          well ... it’s just that there isn’t another one in comparable sizes? criteria for comparison then he chose. Light multi-purpose missiles, why not compare them? especially since the Ministry of Defense then adopted them into service with army aviation. In terms of characteristics, I agree with you - a hat. Especially how the mounting system is implemented ... 1 missile per pylon .... 100 kg, where you can hang from 6 to 8 missiles ... And he wrote in the comments that what is good for the FSB - the destruction of point targets, is not suitable for army. 2-4 missiles on board is not a load.
  3. Beaver
    Beaver 14 December 2022 22: 38
    0
    I want to cram too much into such a small size, so they suffer. In general, Shahid is the best cruise missile))
    1. Introvert
      Introvert 14 December 2022 23: 10
      -2
      How many can fit on a plane?

      Sorry, I'm not smart enough to write a normal comment

      Interesting autocorrect...))) Article Art. 5.61 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation. Insult?

      The request to the "FEDERAL SERVICE FOR SUPERVISION IN THE SPHERE OF COMMUNICATIONS, INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES AND MASS COMMUNICATIONS" has been drawn up)))
      Screenshots+