A £550 million contract for new surface-attack missiles for the F-35 has been signed.
Known as SPEAR3, the next-generation missile can travel long distances at high-subsonic speed and over the next decade will become the F-35’s primary air-to-ground weapon.
At 1.8 metres long, the missile system has a range of more than 140-kilometres and, powered by a turbojet engine, can operate across land and sea, day or night, to overpower enemy air defence systems, while the pilot and aircraft remains a safe distance away.
Its ability to attack moving targets will enhanc£550m contract signed for ‘mini cruise missiles’e the UK’s future combat air capability and provide immense lethal capability to the Queen Elizabeth class carrier strike group, say the Ministry of Defence.
Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said:
“The development of this next-generation missile will allow us to protect our personnel and assets on the ground, from thousands of metres in the sky above. Our commitment to this system will secure hundreds of highly skilled jobs across the UK and showcase British technology and weapon expertise on the world stage.”
Following a successful development phase, the new seven-year demonstration and manufacture contract with MBDA will support more than 700 UK jobs, including the creation of 190 highly skilled technology jobs in system design, guidance control and navigation and software engineering.
The Ministry of Defence say that at the peak of the contract, 570 people will work on various aspects of the system’s development in Bristol, Stevenage and Bolton. Another 200 jobs are expected to be sustained along the supply chain that includes L3/Harris, Roband, Collins, EPS and MSB.