The MoD has awarded a £411 million contract to develop a new missile for the UK’s future F-35B supersonic stealth 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.

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.

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 tradition 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. Spear 3 will enter service in the mid-2020’s.


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David B Jones

How many do we get ,

UK Defence Journal

As many as we need until the bad guys stop coming.

Álvaro de la Barra C.

My opinion is that the missile is useless against present bad guys.

Peter Vine

Its like a mini-cruise missile 🙂

Steven Allsopp

Firstly the plan is for typhoon and f35s the f35s are USA and officially we have non in service. The spear is next gen brimstone missile guidance system not a new missle. Sorry chaps but still good to hear how propaganda can put a different spin on things 🙂

Mark L

I may be being thick Steven, but I’m afraid your comment doesn’t make any sense. What plan are you talking about? Of course we don’t have any F35’s in service yet, but we will in due course so what’s your point?


Wait… what? You just went full retard.


I think you’re the one looking at some peculiar websites that use spin! The UK already has at least 4 F35s which are being used for training and testing. The government has committed to buying several squadrons of this aircraft in the next few years, as our new aircraft carriers are specifically designed to use it. Several other countries, including Australia, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Turkey, Italy have also ordered the F35 and some have already also taken their first deliveries.


Spear is not simply a next generation of the Brimstone as you imply. They share similar technologies, but Spear is a long-range missile, whereas the Brimstone is a short-range missile.


The overall unit cost of these (development + procurement) will be enormous.

However it does seem to be superior to the US GBU-53 it will go up against…
Hopefully there will be a lot of export opportunity among the other F35 customers.

Steven Allsopp

And we won’t get f35s if we leave Europe if the outers want a reason to stay in. Just raising a point 🙂


Why is that?

UK Defence Journal

Absolutely not Steven. we are the biggest partner the F35 program. We build 15-30% percent of the plane depending on the model. Europe has no bearing in the program.

david southern

Why has UK defence been liked at all to Europe? We are in NATO and that will not change if we vote to leave the European Union.

Seb Haggart

Where are you getting this from Stephen? I’ve read a few of your comments and it’s just BS. Apologies if you’re special needs. We are the second largest contributor on the f35 program. Producing anywhere from 15 up to 30% of parts of the aircraft. We are also involved heavily with testing. Being in the EU or not has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Ross Pearce

James Steele

James Gale

Actually SPEAR is built on Brimstone 2 but is a new missile system in itself. As for not getting F35s if we leave Europe that is utter rubbish. Europe has nothing to do with our defence budget or the procurement of the F35B

Steven Allsopp

Which carrier will if we get any will it launch from our closest to be built is 2020 if it stays on schedule. With one more possibly getting commissioned 2020 so that would be about 2025 in service. Currently a Italian carrier is being outfitted to launch them and for us to operate our f35bs if we get them. If we leave Europe that option could vanish and no point having a plane you can’t operate.


I think you must be deliberately making up your nonsense! Where are you getting your information? The first carrier, HMS Elizabeth, is already built and is now undergoing fitting out. It is scheduled to begin sea trials in March 2017, F35 trials from the carrier begin in 2018, and it will be operational from 2020. Construction of the 2nd carrier is well underway. If you don’t believe they’re being built you can see them for yourself at the yard in Rosthyth.

James Gale

What Italian carrier?News to me as we are working with the US Marines not the Italian Navy…even if there was a discussion on Italian carriers leaving Europe doesn’t stop military cross training….and we still have the US. You are making an issue up where there simply isn’t one.

James Gale

As for carriers of course the QE will be in service when the F35 is up and running. Not sure why you use the word possibly as both have been confirmed as entering service.

Seb Haggart

Italy are the second largest partner after the UK in the F35 program. We are not flying our f35b off the Italian carrier Cavour that currently flies the AV8B. Italy are getting a mix of a and b f35. Total of the planned 60 of a mix of both has now been cut almost in half due to Italy’s financial situation. Italy is not due to get its main order of f35s until later batch during 2021. Both our carriers will enter service. The POW is undergoing design changes in build to take on oceans role. This includes davits for… Read more »

Seb Haggart

There is some utter BS being spoken on this page! Bloody supermarket shelf stackers. ?

Paul Gallagher

On the upside its not been contracted out to China ?

Kevin Coates

Absolutely right Seb. There is no country in the world that is going to turn down millions of pounds of trade with us wether we are in EU or not. Buisness is buisness. ….

david southern

How does this missile protect itself from a S300, s400?

Edgar Ruiz Murillo

A lot of money to destroy a truck. …

david southern

or an Armata, T90! then its cheap!


Wow. I can’t believe the amount of nonsense and misinformation being spoken by Steven Allsopp. Pretty much everything you have said on this thread is just plain wrong e.g. “The spear is next gen brimstone missile guidance system not a new missle. Sorry chaps but still good to hear how propaganda can put a different spin on thing.” Where to begin. Firstly there is no such thing as “the spear”. SPEAR is a program, a group of missiles, and we are talking about Spear capability 3 here (there are 5 in total with the first 2 already in service, 3… Read more »

Karl Bromley

Needs to be pointy! Make it pointy.

david southern

Fine technical comment! 🙂


“david southern | May 20, 2016 at 06:11 | Reply
How does this missile protect itself from a S300, s400?

Navaly speaking, SPEAR 3 is a saturation attack in a tin. 1 F35B can dispence 8 SPEAR 3 missiles internally whilst preserving its sealth. This will overwhelm anything except a DARING class destroyer.

As a SEAD\DEAD weapon SPEAR will be taking out the s300-400 launchers. And keeps the F35B WELL over the horizon whilst doing it.


“Navaly speaking, SPEAR 3 is a saturation attack in a tin. 1 F35B can dispence 8 SPEAR 3…”

I like the description. That’s an expensive tin though 🙂

That was a joke by the way, I’m not an F-35 basher.

David Nicholls

If your consider a 4 ship F35B strike package that is 32 Spear 3s. I think that would overwhelm virtually any defence system! The impact of a single Spear 3 warhead may not be massive it could well be a mission kill for most ships.


And with a Brimstone-style millimetric radar seeker it can identify not just a tank but what type of tank and aim not just for the target but for the turret ring. That, given the appropriate database entry for an enemy ship, should make targeting the radars or putting a couple through the bridge windows entirely doable. They should also inherit Brimstone’s ability to communicate in flight to do simultaneous impact on multiple targets which all helps in saturating a ship’s defenses. There’s also the armour-defeating pre-cursor + main warhead which should be useful when targeting internal spaces such as bridge,… Read more »


I never get why people are linking the euro voting to defence, the issues are completely separate. We share resources and work together with the European nations, not because of the EU membership but because we share common defence concerns, since an attack on any of the western European nations would almost certainly have an effect on the others.

The issue with the saturation attack, is we never buy enough of anything to make a saturation attack viable. Yes we could easily overwhelm one target with a huge saturation attack,but then we would be out of missiles.


Simple. Both sides of the leave/remain argument are trying to use every possible thing to create an argument in favour of their case and, with both sides willing to make dubious or even ludicrous assumptions and distort facts to suit their needs, it’s pretty easy to spin either an anti or a pro leave message for pretty much anything including defence. Both sides are hoping that the majority of the electorate won’t really dig into all the issues and will be swayed by the sound bites.


I wonder how much of an issue CIWS would be to these missiles.

If the bullets took out one of the mini wings, there could be a risk that the missile would turn rapidly, due to uneven drag with only one wing.


“I wonder how much of an issue CIWS would be to these missiles.” A very big one. They’re high subsonic speed and something like Phalanx is quite capable of dealing with supersonic missiles (allegedly) so something like this should be relatively straightforward for it even ignoring the extra target that the wings might present. An issue though is with Phalanx firing at 4,500 rounds/minute and carrying 1,550 rounds that’s only about 20 seconds of firing. In 2.5 second bursts that’s 8 intercept attempts. A saturation attack can reasonably expect to deplete a CIWS in the same manner as it would… Read more »