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.

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Deep32

Things definitely moving in the right direction WRT ‘Strike’ capabilities, if only Bk4 upgrade wasn’t coming in late and over budget! Still, can’t have too much of a good thing all at once!😩

Rfn_Weston

How many SPEAR3 can the F35B carry internally?

Or externally for that matter?

Julian

Eight internally, 4 in each weapons bay, with space still left over for 1 x Meteor on the inside of each of the weapon bay doors. Not sure about external.

ETH

I’m assuming 3 per hardpoint like the Typhoon, using the inner and middle hard points on each wing so up to 12 externally.

Rudeboy1

It might actually be 4 per hardpoint as the rack being used internally will be the BRU-61. Which would mean 24 Spear, 2 Asraam and 2 Meteor carried. Or it might be none externally at all…not seen any plans to carry SDBII or Spear externally yet. MBDA have a triple rack used for Brimstone that they could adapt, but they have also shown a Hexa-rack concept for use with the similar SmartGlider Light weapon. This is essentially 2 triple racks joined together. That could, theoretically, mean an external load of 24 Spear, with 8 more internal. But of all the… Read more »

ETH

Interesting, I wonder why they won’t use this rack on the Typhoon? All info I’ve seen is 3 per hardpoint on the Typhoon.

ETH

Upon further reading I have found concept images from MBDA of Typhoon using the BRU-61 quad launcher on Typhoon so it’s certainly a possibility.

C0A6EB36-C9CC-4D22-B5CA-9B814300C566.png
Rudeboy1

Personally I’m a little conflicted. We’re going to have to use the BRU-61 internally, but I would like to see a UK solution externally….problem is that the Hex launcher loaded would be a 1500lb store, which is marginal for some pylons. The triple makes sense for Brimstone, but if you can get a more aerodynamic BRU-61 for 4 Spear you’ll go with that.

maurice10

Groundbreaking…literally. If a single F35 can deliver up to four mini cruise, just imagine what that will do to enhance the F35 platform?

Robert Blay

Make that 8 internally, plus it could carry more under the wings if stealth isn’t the priority. This weapon will be a game changer. And it has anti ship capability.

Daveyb

MBDA have a triple and a quad launcher that can be attached to a single underwing pylon in production. The Typhoon will be using a triple pack, whilst the F35B will use the quad pack. Weight is not an issue as the whole lot comes under 500kg. So far, I have only seen one quad pack fitted to a F35’s middle hardpoint in the blurb. The F35B has three hard points per wing, the inner hardpoint is rated at 5000lbs (2268kg), the middle at 1500lbs (680kg) and the outer at 300lbs (136kg). Theoretically speaking, the F35 should also be able… Read more »

Jack

24 ? Considering the low level the UK tends to stockpile such weapons, if a major conflict were to erupt, how many days of conflict could the UK go before exhausting it’s entire supply ? LOL

Supportive Bloke

Some things we do have big stockpiles of: Storm Shadow springs to mind @ about 1000 purchased.

Other things we have puzzlingly few of: sub launches cruise missiles less than 100.

maurice10

Just imagine a simultaneous cruise attack using Astute and F35! This new weapon could be the most significant system seen in decades?

Jason

The only problem with the sub launch cruise missles, you have to pick up the platform after launch, its about 100k per platform

Supportive Bloke

Very true – but that is pretty much true of the sub going active in any context!

BB85

I’d say that was a political decision. We ordered 1,000 to support UK industry and get some sort of economy of scale. Tomahwaks the US already has economy of scale so the UK basically bought the minimum it needed knowing it could just purchase them directly from us stock piles if it needed more.

Rudeboy1

The UK isn’t bad for stockpiles. But Spear is a break in weapon in the main. Paveway IV and Brimstone from Typhoon are the main munitions after that phase.

But….the UK could really do with some really cheap guided munitions, in the JDAM and SDB1 class. Both of those are around $25k. PWIV and Brimstone are 4x that…

Julian

Spear 3 looks like yet another great missile from MBDA. I do hope that VLS Spear 3 sees the light of day sometime. A few years ago MBDA showed some concept drawings ,and even a model at one show I think (but I could be wrong about that), of a cold-launch VLS version – basically Spear 3 with a booster attached and I assume needing more of a CAMM-ER sized cannister than a regular Sea Ceptor sized cannister to accommodate what would probably be a higher mass and bigger diameter.

ChariotRider

Hi Julian, MBDA have carried out a number of test firings of surface to surface Brimstone derived weapons. One of the variants according to Wikipedia is called Brimstone Sea Spear. As far as I can tell these weapons are Brimstones i.e. without the wings (the wiki page is not clear). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brimstone_(missile) I have also seen a 2015 report from ThinkDefence.co.uk showing an artist’s impression of quad packed Spear 3 launching from Mk41 VLS. From other articles (one on the MBDA site which I cannot find now) it appears CAMM, CAMM ER and Spear 3 can all be quad packed into… Read more »

Daveyb

You definitely have something there. MBDA had a presentation at DSEI in 2019 that showed a ground launched multi-cell version (32 cells) of Brimstone. This was fired from the back of a 8×8 MAN truck. Later in the same demo they had a computer animation of Spear 3, that also showed it being fired from the same type of 8×8 truck (I think it was 16 cells from memory). In the demo, the SPEAR 3 containers were raised to 45 degrees and then fired, They were fixed, so could not slew in a preferred target’s direction. The major point they… Read more »

Glass Half Full

Good roll up on the possible options Davey. Combining SPEAR3 armed/EW variants and NSM/JSM, perhaps even adding a supersonic FC/ASW variant, all timed to arrive simultaneously, could be extremely difficult to counter. Was the SPEAR3 MAN 8×8 truck launch presentation showing a hot or cold launch, because I’ve wondered if a cold launch version is viable for ship use. BTW I hadn’t seen confirmation of JSM qualification being funded for Poseidon, do you have a link on that? It makes military sense for those with both F-35 and P8, but I wondered about commercial costs of doing so and who… Read more »

DaveyB

At present the P8s that Norway and Australia have as well as the other users, use harpoon as the anti-ship weapon.The P8s we are getting will also use Harpoon. However, both Countries MoDs expressed an interest to replace it with JSM. As this is the weapon that is used by the Norwegian Navy (NSM version) and JSM will be integrated on the F35 on the next Block 4 upgrade. Australia have integrated on their F18s and will also have it on their F35s. They have also paid BAe to integrate a passive radar receiver in the JSM to augment the… Read more »

Glass Half Full

Thanks for the explanation. I understand Australia has also ordered LRASM, presumably to complement JSM with a longer range and much larger warhead solution. My thinking is that they may stick with just LRASM for P8 since it avoids them paying for integration and the longer range keeps the aircraft further away from ship defences.

DaveyB

Oops, forgot, it was a hot launch.

Glass Half Full

Ah, well, ship based hot launch cells it seems to be then.

Gunbuster

Just discovered that the RN is modding the Sea Ceptor Software package to give it an Anti Surface capability. That means that a T23 will have the ability to reach out to 25+Km against surface targets.

Joe16

That is excellent news, I hadn’t seen that before! The debate about clearing them for quad packing in VLS then begins I suppose, if they become multi-role. My understanding is that it’s feasible to do, but it hasn’t been officially qualified yet?
I guess that means that Land Ceptor will also be capable of delivering an indirect precision fires role too- although they’re not getting them in large numbers from my understanding.

Bob2

Hi Joe,

With such a limited purchase of land ceptor, it will probably only be able to defend divisional and or brigade HQ.

If you want precision fires, we could simply get the surface launched brimstone, like the one MBDA marketed at the Polish army.

24 missiles on a single vehicle (odd that the precision. Fires version of the boxer only has 8)

BACB6287-3D01-4FD3-B391-F491F9C4FE5F.jpeg
Joe16

Thanks Bob, I feared as much… I suppose a larger buy would make it more deployable, and there might be some beenfit in common platforms in terms of cost savings and stuff. I do like that Brimstone launcher though, cool bit of kit! 24 missiles seems like a lot, especially compared with the larger Boxer- does that include reloads, or are they all good to go? I wonder about the range though, I think it would be shorter than 20 km but I may well be wrong. Might it be better to go for a 120 mm mortar system for… Read more »

Bob2

Joe, I think brimstone range is quoted as 60km from typhoon and 40km from helicopters. I have struggled to find and quoted range for surface launched version or its marine derivative sea spear, so 25km is just a hypothesis.

the drawings shown by Mbda had 1, 2 or 3 8-brimstone pods on the polish BMPs. I believe they are all ready to fire.

Nicholas Drummond has just tweeted an image of boxer with a 12-cell MLRS system, so I assume the boxer can be fitted with a lot more than 8 brimstone.

Joe16

Wow, that’s a lot further than I expected! Hellfire is about 12 km, which I assume is measured from launch from an Apache. Given the 2 quoted ranges, 25 km doesn’t sound unreasonable to me- so I’ll withdraw my concern about range. That’s cool, quite a barrage to launch 12 in short order, without a reload. You’d think so, I liked Nicholas’ latest buildout of an ideal Strike brigade, he seems to have changed his thinking quite significantly compared to previous stuff he’s put out about Strike. Not a bad thing, I think he’s on the right track. The question… Read more »

Rudeboy1

The precision fires proposal for Boxer was not carrying Brimstone….

It was something else…

Bob2

Hi RB1,

If not brimstone/spear3, what were mbda proposing, or was is a potential future missile. Spike NLOS might be an alternative, but the UK has invested in brimstone development, so I believe its use should be maximised.

If we only by brimstone in limited stocks, it does not encourage other nations to purchase it.

Rudeboy1

Future missile. Essentially a mash-up of CAMM and Brimstone. Soft launch as well. It was of an increased calbre as well (wider than CAMM). 2 seeker heads were shown; A Dual Mode Brimstone Head and an Electro-Optical Head. Lots of interesting potential…. 1) – Spike NLOS replacement – Probably cheaper, faster, much larger range (60km vs.25km) bigger warhead. UK built. No political issues around use/deployment. Could be added as the image suggested as a module on Boxer. The offensive capability of Strike Brigades enhanced enormously very easily. Replaces the poor trailer mounted Spike NLOS (that by all accounts isn’t successful… Read more »

DaveyB

That’s a very good and comprehensive description of the development potential of the MBDA’s CAMM airframe. Though you did miss one out. How about a CAMM-EW? Using the same Britecloud derived DRFM jammer that’s fitted to Spear-EW. It would give another option to attacking a target. The imaging infrared (IIR) seeker currently used by ASRAAM gives a very good contrast definition, so much so that a still image has near 720P or better picture quality. It is one of the reasons why multi-frequency flares have trouble decoying ASRAAM. The seeker is soon to be upgraded with an even higher resolution… Read more »

Bob2

Thanks RB1 for a great summary of the potential we could get from mbda

I also read that the proposed missile would have the same diameter as brimstone/spear and therefore bigger than camm. Would it therefore be an issue fitting it in camm launchers.

Rudeboy1

Yes it does have a larger calibre. 180mm vs 166mm. Shouldn’t be a problem fitting in the canister as CAMM-ER has a similar diameter in its mid section. They may need to have pop-out fins rather than folding though.

The diameter of it is actualy really encouraging, it means they won’t have to re-package the Brimstone seeker head (which would cost serious money). I suspect it will have a lower impulse rocket engine than CAMM as well. The focus will be on range rather than outright speed. As a result 60km range could be lower than reality…

Bob2

That all sounds reassuring. I guess we have to just wait and see if there is a will to fund the development.

Daniele Mandelli

That, is worth having.

Daniele Mandelli

That, is worth having. And, as always what a writeup by Davey.

DaveyB

I guess that kinda makes sense as the target will likely be within visual range, so can be properly identified. Still need something for over the horizon stuff though.

ETH

I think this will be most impactful to the Type 31s, having a genuine anti-ship capability which doesn’t rely on a Wildcat.

Are you aware if Sea Ceptor is already capable of anti-surface or will it come at a later date? We are yet to see it tested.

Gunbuster

It will get the anti surface capability this year apparently.

Jonathan

That will make a very nasty surprise for any small craft swarm in the gulf.

It would be good for the type 31 as well, it’s ability to manage swarm attacks will be quite robust considering it’s a constabulary vessel .

Joe16

Agree pretty broadly with you there- I think there is a place for Spear 3 in the midst of Martlet, sea Venom, I-ASW and FCASW on the Navy side, and Paveway (?), Brimstone and Storm Shadow/FCASW on the RAF side. If we really wanted to, it could even fit in with army via the launch systems you mention- but that may be too far down the joined up thinking route for the MOD…! I’d imagine that Martlet may have a place on AAC Wildcat too, but maybe I’m getting a bit carried away there (especially as I think the AAC… Read more »

Rudeboy1

P-8 Poseidon will also have access to US Harpoon missiles.

Julian

Great summary. Thanks Davey. On the shipborne VLS possibility, like you I also wondered about the dreadful dilemma it could give an enemy ship if a combination of a relatively high number of precision-targeted mission/system kill Spear 3 were incoming at the same time as a smaller number of potentially ship-sinking NSM/JSM in terms of saturating defences and potentially needing to be selective in which incoming missiles to attempt to intercept. I note also that SPEAR 3 already has the ability for a cluster of missiles to communicate amongst themselves to coordinate coincident impacts on multiple targets e.g. a line… Read more »

DaveyB

It’s a valid point, especially as Gunbuster has said the SeaCeptor will be getting a surface attack mode in the next update. Will this also be carried over to CAMM-ER? The Italians Navy is the launch customer for the ER version. The ER version uses the same active RF seeker as SeaCeptor, so in theory everything should work with a few software tweeks to take into account of the ER’s additional mass. The issue I have is that for say a T31 with possibly only 12 SeaCeptors, using any for attacking a small vessel of land target will leave your… Read more »

Bob2

Thanks Davey for some great explanations of what is out there.

Like you, with limited numbers of sea ceptor on T31, I would have concern for using it for both air and sea defence.

Do you know if the RN ever considered the Sea Spear from MBDA. Sea brimstone might be a more appropriate name though.

It would have a similar range to sea ceptor, a 19kg warhead and has a very compact launcher.

https://www.mbda-systems.com/product/brimstone-sea-spear/

Paul42

Sea Ceptor is no where near being suited to surface attack. Simply put its designed as a small SAM , and doesn’t have anything like the size of warhead needed to be remotely effective.

Glass Half Full

Depends what the goals are for its use. It would make a mess of small FIAC craft and personnel. Its cold launch method makes it ideal as a CIWS missile against surface craft.

It won’t sink larger boats and ships but it can destroy sensors and bridge structure, taking vessels out of the fight.

Paul42

Any ASM missile we use must posess the ability to create enough damage to severely hamper any attacking vessels offensive capability. Its unlikely Sea Ceptor could achieve that, and it shouldn’t need to. We should ensure our ships are fitted with a decent purpose built ASM that can such as LRASM.

Glass Half Full

Horses for courses. We, together with the French, are developing FC/ASW which should be able to take on any vessel. But FC/ASW is going to be a multi-million pound missile, we wouldn’t want to use that against a speedboat. Both because of the disproportionate ratio of missile cost to threat and because we would never have the numbers of such a missile to counter the potential numbers of FIAC in a swarm attack. BTW LRASM hasn’t been qualified by anyone yet for surface launch, its still a hypothetical solution in that context. It may never be qualified in that role… Read more »

Paul42

It remains to be seen if FC/ASW ever actually becomes a reality? It has yet to become anything more than an a proposal so far. LRASM can launched from VLS or cannister and is available now. As for trying to launch Sea Ceptor against a swarming boat attack, radar controlled guns are far more effective.

Glass Half Full

Sure the FC/ASW program could crash and burn. It is more than a proposal though, per link below which includes timeline. At this point, subject to COVID delays, we are at the end of the concept refinement stage. LRASM is only qualified as an air-launch missile today, so its “now” availability is for US aircraft only at this point. Specifically it is qual’d for F-18E/F and B-1B and in process for P8. Lockheed has test launched from canister and MK41 a long time ago and committed their own funds to developing surface launch, but the USN has not adopted it… Read more »

Julian

Oops. A bit late on coming back on this but you (Davey & Bob) are 100% right to point out the elephant in the room re my previous post namely the absurdly low number of Sea Ceptor launchers proposed for T31. I confess that when I mentioned T31 I had sort of skipped ahead and was assuming my “trifecta” of Sea Ceptor initiatives were being implemented where I’ve mentioned the first two: 1 – whatever Sea Ceptor launcher the RN adopts to be sized to host not just CAMM but also CAMM-ER cannisters for future flexibility and 2 – develop… Read more »

DaveyB

Julian, I like the idea of your Trifecta. Though the idea of a role fit SAM system for a ship is new. I think Gunbuster can back me up here? But there was a lightweight Sea Wolf system, that was designed to be fitted to the RFAs. Not sure why it didn’t happen, probably down to saving money. The idea of Staniflex is valid I think. But I would probably base it on the Quadcon small intermodal container (ISO) that measures 4′ 9 3/8″ (1457mm) long x 8′ (2438mm) high x 8′ (2438mm) wide. If the container was based on… Read more »

DaveyB

Meant to a say: ” a SAM role fit for a ship is not new” – Doh!

Julian

Glad to hear that on initial inspection my ideas aren’t totally idiotic. I make a periodic disclaimer here that, although I have a scientific background via both physics and comp sci degrees, I am most definitely not an expert in military matters and have no practical experience whatsoever of applying such technologies in a military environment so offer all suggestions and comments on this forum most humbly and in the spirit of potentially being told what I’m missing and/or don’t understand to help me plug gaps in my knowledge rather than thinking I have out-thought the experts although if I… Read more »

Daveyb

A good forum is judged by the the interaction of those taking part, but also by having an informed discussion, where the participants can have a debate without judgement. Your Trifecta proposal is I think valid, as it could deliver not only a balanced deterrent but also a means of easy expansion, if the cack should hit the fan anytime soon. However, I would look at basing a staniflex system around the Quadcon mini ISO container. The Quadcom II measures 4′ 9 3/8″ (1291mm) x 8′ (2438mm) high x 8′ (2348mm) wide giving a footprint of 3148mm squared). If the… Read more »

Airborne

And this is part of the reason for reading and contributing to this site, I learn from people who know. Cheers.

KPB

I was just thinking the same thing.

A question to all about T31 and it only having a 12-missile capacity – potentially split across surface attack and air defence.

Are those silos re-loadable at sea?

Last edited 2 months ago by KPB
Paul42

No, they are not re-loadable at sea. Its unclear at the moment if it will be 12 or 24?.

Supportive Bloke

Quite

Daniele Mandelli

How many missiles are in the contract?

Does S3 have any sort of ASM capability?

Does this replace or just supplement Storm Shadow?

Also, concerning 4 stowed internally. I assume this would reduce if a loyal wingman type drone was also carried.

Daniele Mandelli

Sorry Julian, 8.

Meirion X

S3 is much lighter than Storm Shadow, it is middle-weight.
I cannot find any numbers on S3s to be procured.

Daniele Mandelli

Me neither M.

Deep32

Hi @DM, if you believe the blurb that has been put out, S3 is effective against both land and sea targets both stationary and moving!
Not sure wrt SS, S3 has a far smaller warhead and range, so, best guess is it probably replaces it on F35, as MOD parked requirement to integrate SS with BK 4 upgrade, not read/seen anything that reverses that decision.

Daniele Mandelli

Thanks mate. Makes sense. Even if it does have even rudimentary ASM capability, I hope an air launched ASM missile is also purchased.

Robert Blay

It won’t replace stormshadow, as that weapon has longer range and a larger warhead, Spear 4 will replace Stormshadow. But this weapon will bring an extremely versatile weapon that can be carried in numbers. Fixed targets, moving targets, and it has anti ship capability.

Daniele Mandelli

Thanks for clarifying Robert.

Where does Brimstone sit regards SPEAR variants?

Robert Blay

I’m not sure to be honest, if it replaces Brimstone 2, or compliments it. Brimstone 2 is pretty new, so I don’t think it replaces it, I’m sure someone will correct me.

Daveyb

Brimstone is not being integrated on to the F35 as of yet! I haven’t seen anything about it in the Block 5 blurb. So for the UK it will primarily be used by Typhoon, Protector, Reaper if they’re still in service, and possibly Apache. Don’t forget, Spear 3 can do everything Brimstone can plus loiter. Though Brimstone is high supersonic whilst Spear 3 is subsonic.

Paul42

Te fact that Spear 3 is subsonic, puts it at a disadvantage in todays world. A supersonic version would be a much more preferable choice.

DaveyB

If the Spear 3 kept the same rocket engine in Brimstone 2, it would need a new wing design. It would also have a significant drop in range and will not have a decent loiter capability if at all. To replace the current mini turbojet with a much higher thrust one would mean the airframe would have to get much bigger, thus pushing up the weight. So for a F35B less would be able to be carried internally. I think there is a case for a small supersonic mini cruise missile. Spear 3 is not it, as it would require… Read more »

Ron

Hi DM, If I understand all the bumf correctly SPEAR 3 and variants could be seen as a long range Brimstone. They use many of the same parts, the same diameter 7.1inch with wings folded as Brimstone and the same type of warhead. The weight diffrence is due to the larger motor, wings and fuel pack. If MDBA can get SPEAR 3 to operate from a VLS it could be a useful missile for a small combattant or as a secondery Anti Ship Missile/ Swarm Attack missile to overwhelm an enemies defence whilst the main strike comes just behind. They… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Thanks Ron.

Joe16

Hi Daniele, happy new year!
According to TD, Spear cap 3 will replace Brimstone 2. However, they seem to be slightly different capability classes to me, so we could well see them both in service. Especially if they decide to equip the AH-64Es with Brimstone- I believe they did qualification trials.
https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/uk-complex-weapons/spear-capability-3/

Daniele Mandelli

Happy New Year Joe.

ETH

Slight nitpick but SPEAR cap 4 is just an upgrade to Storm Shadow, SPEAR 5 is likely its ultimate replacement.

Last edited 2 months ago by ETH
Daveyb

No, the weapon that will be replacing Storm Shadow is planned to be the joint UK/France Future Anti-Ship Missile (FC/ASW) by 2030-ish. It is designed to replace harpoon, Exocet, Storm Shadow and SCALP. Storm Shadow is predominately used against hardened targets such as bunkers, bomb dumps and aircraft hardened shelters. Even though Spear 3 has a programmable multi-effects tandem shaped warhead. It is too feeble for these kinds of targets even when used in a swarm.

Daniele Mandelli

Right, understood.

Watcherzero

Heres a size comparison, Spear 3 on the left, Perseus in the middle and the Spear EW Jammer/Decoy on the right.

LUMUQJKIVVAGBPFVHAHYIHP4JQ[1].jpg
BB85

When they say 7 year demonstration phase does this mean it won’t actually be operational until 2027? It makes sense for F35B but if this was test fired from a Typhoon 2 or 3 years ago surely it should be ready for operation in a very short space of time.

Meirion X

It is the production phase as well for Spear3.

BB85

That’s good news then. It looks like it’s ready to go on Typhoon hopefully it won’t take too long to integrate on F35. The range should keep Typhoon well out of harms way from short and medium range Sam’s. Everyone keeps talking about S400 but it doesn’t look like the most deployable missile on the planet. We could probably knock them out quite easily on day 1 of any conflict meaning Russia or anyone else would need 100s of batteries

Peter S

A lot of comments on this site have expressed concern about the lack of a heavy anti ship capabity. This would seem to be a better solution: the F35 will carry these internally and remain stealthy. A larger Harpoon/Exocet missile would have to be carried externally losing the stealth advantage. I guess(I don’t know) that it will be harder to defend against a salvo of Spear3s than a single heavyweight AShM.
What we also need is a ship launched version, though a shorter range supersonic missile might be better – Sea Brimstone perhaps?
,

farouk

At 1.8 metres long, the missile system has a range of more than 140-kilometres 

That’s amazing

Paul.P

Yes, almost twice the range of the SDB I think.

DaveyB

As SDB is a glide bomb its range is determined by the release height of the aircraft. So when it states Spear 3 has twice the range of SDB, its contextual. Especially as Spear 3 can be released from very low level, but still have a range over 100km. From high altitude it is probably a lot more than 100km.

Paul.P

Just to be clear the ‘twice the range’ comment was a result of my fag packet googling. I’ve not seen any official comparison. Low level approach and pop up launch from long range sounds good.
I vaguely recall at one point there was some pressure ( from Boeing?) on the UK to drop Spear 3 in favour of a cheap deal on SDB. Glad to see we held out for Spear.

Ron

PP, We did not hold out for SPEAR 3 we instigated the development of it. I seem to remember that the MoD spent over £400 million on the development costs.

Paul.P

So we did: temptation resisted😉

John Hampson

There was also a propsal to quad pack 4 Spears in a Mk41 launcher for anti swarm protection for RN ships.

Gunbuster

Bit of a waste doing that. A 5m long MK41 type cell with a 2 m long missile. (SPEAR 3 + a VL booster) in it. The current and ongoing upgrade to Sea Ceptor software will give it an Anti swarm/Anti Ship capability this year. So on a T26 the separate Sea Ceptor Launchers and the T31 launchers would be dual use…anti air and anti surface.

Pete

But wouldn’t the warhead on ceptor be too lightweight to be effective against all but the smallest of marine craft….and with limited range. Pending the arrival of son of perseus the quad packing S3 at least provides some reach and punch on those vessels that won’t have 1 of the 5 interim Ashm sets.

John Hampson

The Mk 41 is not a fixed length. The Spear has 3 to 4 times the range. It has a far bigger and flexible warhead giving it a far greater potency than Ceptor.

Gunbuster

I full appreciate that MK 41 and 57 vary from regular to strike length. Using only 3 m of a 5-8 m launcher is a waste compared to filling it with a longer, more capable and multi use missile. AS the T26 will have both launchers I cannot see the need to use MK41 for Spear3. As the interim ASM will be with us by then we need to see how that is launched. If its a seperate launcher (harpoon/NSM) then I can see the MK41 getting used for additional SAM or ASW capability. On a T31 who knows. It… Read more »

John Hampson

Length is not the critical factor. It is the square deck area occupied. The question is 4 short to medium range ASM v 1 long range missile. Should there be a mix and if so what is the best balance for differing operational situations.

Bob2

Why put spear 3 in any VLS? At 2m in length and 180mm diameter, spear 3 is only a foot longer than a hellfire, 8 of which can be fitted to a RWS on a Humvee.

Could we not simply stick a 4 or 6 cell pod on each side of a modified DS30M style mount and fit a couple per ship?

As a non deck penetrating mount, we could just move them between ships if and when required.

For a maritime environment, maybe the 19kg warhead from the sea spear might be fitted to spear 3.

John Hampson

The thing that seem to be forgotten is the basic Spear 3 would most probably require a booster rocket to lift it to an optimal height. This would obvisiously increase the length but hugely increase the range and flexibility of the system.

Bob2

Thanks JH,

I do not think mbda have released any data on the range of surface launched brimstone 2, sea spear or spear 3. There is a video showing sea spear hitting a target 20km away, but true range might be much further.

like you say, to get effective loitering or ew capability, spear 3 might need to get to a much greater heights than brimstone and sea spear.

Supportive Bloke

Anyway, I think we can all agree, a GOOD thing for once.

An output of having proper funding in place for modernisation initiatives like this.

Make no mistake some weapons procurement that is fully developed and has been kicked down the road for cash flow reasons is going to get warmed up pretty quickly.

It is going to make a massive difference having the whole of the RN equipped with state of the art missiles.

dan

Hopefully this will give the Brits some SEAD capabilities they lost with the retirement of the ALARM years ago.

George Royce

A great bit of kit, perhaps the best in the world. When will the Typhoon get it?

AlexS

So now Harpoon/SLAM is a cruise missile?

Nevertheless the big ticket here is that 8 can be put in F35 bomb bay. The speed certainly does not make it at problem for modern air defenses so the bet is in saturation.

Gunbuster

Harpoon always was a “cruise missile”…Its got a jet engine.

BB85

Air defenses also have to be available to defend its intended target. 99% of the time there will be nothing to intercept it and if there is 4 missiles on a saturation attack would likely get most of the missiles through to the target

whlgrubber

wonder if it could be carried on Merlin, Wildcat or Apache? is launch speed an issue and would it need a booster. ? Reminds me of a baby Sea Eagle.

Gunbuster

Good to see that its coming to fruition. Export opportunities abound for this system. Any of the F35 and Typhoon operators in Europe, Mid East and Far East will be looking on with interest. I did read a Leonardo comment somewhere that the proposed EW version can jam and spoof only and won’t have a warhead. However they said it could suicide into a radar aerial/antenna giving you a secondary, nice to have SEAD capability. As well as the kinetic hit of a few hundred Kgs of missile at 200 odd mph any fuel still onboard , even a small… Read more »

DaveyB

Yep, Spear EW does not have a warhead. The space is taken up by a developed version of Leonardo’s Britecloud DRFM system. From what I have read the bandwidth and power has been expanded to make it even more effective.

ETH

SPEAR EW will be a game changer, detecting ground radar signals and guiding SPEAR 3 missiles towards it as a networked swarm, all whilst jamming said radar and spoofing it with numerous decoys.

Not to mention likely a much longer range due to lack of warhead and thus will loiter above targets providing consistent jamming.

KPB

It certainly sounds like it could wipe the smile off the face of an S400 operator.

AJH

With all the new weapons systems being announced I think I’m getting muddled on their intended roles etc. The Harpoon is to be phased out and replaced Perseus is that right? And an interim found in the meantime? Martlet is a short range light missile for helicopters but the Lynx can’t engage multiple targets simultaneously. Is there a heavy weight weapon on its way to complement Martlet and can Martlet be used by surface vessels? Brimstone was tested recently wasn’t it against multiple simulated fast attack craft? Will this be entering Naval service and if so where does it fit… Read more »