The Ministry of Defence has revealed the cost of adding ASRAAM and SPEAR-3 missiles as well as Paveway IV guided bombs to the F-35B Lightning II.

The information came to light in response to a written question submitted in the House of Commons.

Kevan Jones, Member of Parliament for North Durham, asked:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what estimate his Department has made of the cost of integrating a (a) ASRAAM, (b) Paveway IV guided bomb and (c) SPEAR 3 long-range precision weapon onto the F-35B Lightning II.”

Jeremy Quin, Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence, responded:

“The estimated costs of integrating ASRAAMPaveway IV and SPEAR Cap 3 weapons onto the F-35 Lightning are as follows: ASRAAM: £47 million, Paveway IV: £103 million, SPEAR Cap 3: £170 million.”

What do those weapons do?

ASRAAM, according to its manufacturers:

“ASRAAM is in service with the Royal Air Force as its Within Visual Range (WVR) Dominance weapon. The weapon is also in operational service with the Royal Australian Air Force on its F/A-18 Hornet. In WVR air combat, the ability to strike first is vital. A pilot engaging an enemy needs a missile that reacts more rapidly than ever before with the speed and agility to maximise the probability of a kill, regardless of evasive target manoeuvres or the deployment of countermeasures. ASRAAM has proven this capability.

ASRAAM accepts target information via the aircraft sensors, such as the radar or helmet mounted sight but can also act as an autonomous infrared search and track system. The RAAF has demonstrated successful ‘over the shoulder’ firing in Lock On After Launch (LOAL) mode against target drones that were behind the wing-line of the launch aircraft. Already fully integrated with proven reliability on Typhoon, Tornado and F/A-18, ASRAAM is also being integrated onto the F-35 Lightning II. Proven capability demonstrated by firings from a range of aircraft, including: F-16, F/A-18, Tornado F3, Tornado GR4 and Typhoon aircraft.”

SPEAR-3, according to its manufacturers: 

“Building on the technology developed for various programs (including the Brimstone and the Dual Mode Brimstone Air-to-Ground missiles), MBDA UK is designing a solution for the Selected Precision Effects At Range(SPEAR 3), capability 3 requirements.

SPEAR flying infography MBDA

This new, F-35 Lightning II internal bay compatible, Air-to-surface missile would allow an attack with high precision and low collateral damage at stand-off ranges with a cost-efficient missile, against a very broad range of surface targets.”

We also took a look at SPEAR-3 a few years ago. You can read our article by clicking here or clicking below.

What is SPEAR 3 and why is it important?

Finally, Paveway IV according to its manufacturers:

“Newer versions of the Paveway bomb are equipped with global positioning and inertial navigation system capabilities.

F35 fighter jet launching a Paveway laser guided missile.

This innovation combines the accuracy and flexibility of traditional laser-guided weapons with the all-weather capability of GPS guidance. The result is decreased sortie counts and weapon inventory and an increased mission success rate.”

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Goldilocks
Goldilocks
3 months ago

Spear 3 Isn’t in service yet, so expect higher integration costs

Tony
Tony
3 months ago
Reply to  Goldilocks

The linked article specifically states “The UK is looking to integrate SPEAR 3 as part of Block 4 software integration on the F-35. In May last year, the MoD awarded a £411 million contract to MBDA to that effect.“, so not sure where Jeremy Quin has got this latest figure from.

Trevor Holcroft
Trevor Holcroft
3 months ago
Reply to  Tony

Is one figure for developing missile in Typhoon and F35, and another for just intigration in f35 .. ?

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
3 months ago
Reply to  Tony

It probably comes down to the definition of “integrating”. The £411 million contract included development of Spear cap 3 for F-35, not just the integration of a design completed weapon onto the aircraft. Per link below –

“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.”

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/411-million-investment-in-new-missile-for-uks-new-jets-sustains-700-uk-jobs

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
3 months ago

Odd that Kevan Jones didn’t ask about integration costs for Meteor too? Perhaps that number is already public somewhere?

dan
dan
3 months ago

Has the Meteor with clipped fins been tested yet? I know the current fins make the missile to big to fit inside the F-35B.

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
3 months ago
Reply to  dan

I haven’t seen anything suggesting it has. Clearly integration of UK weapons isn’t progressing fast enough, or at least is considered to be potentially delayed due to lack of prioritization by BAES and/or Lockheed based on Ben Wallace’s comments to a parliamentary committee. That, together with lack of progress in reducing high F-35 operating costs, being a reason why the UK is not placing further orders for F-35B currently.

Daveyb
Daveyb
3 months ago

This I believe is why Israel were so insistent on the their version to have the software unlocked. Thereby allowing Israel to do their own weapons integration. I wonder how much a contract amendment would cost, that allowed the UK the same allowances?

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
3 months ago
Reply to  Daveyb

The Israeli’s have got one test aircraft. Thats not going to be enough for half of what people claim they’re going to do. Reality is Israel has been buying US weapons recently specifically for their F-35 (AIM-9X, Amraam, JDAM and SDB). If you look at the current Israeli air launched weapons there is actually precious little where their equivalant weapon is superior to those (9X >Python V, Amraam >>Derby etc.) or would add a capability that would justify the costs involved. When you look at users of F-35, their existing weapon stockpiles and orders, own weapon development capabilities and historic… Read more »

Daveyb
Daveyb
3 months ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

The things I know Israel have done on their F35I’s is a replacement of the helmet to a Israeli specific helmet, more integrated EW, along with the Spice EO/GPS Glide bomb and the Delilah cruise missile. Why Israel have chosen these two specific weapons when the Paveway, SDB and soon Spear 3 will be available is anyone’s guess.

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
3 months ago
Reply to  Daveyb

“Have Done”? – Then you know something that nobody else does…. I think you mean to say ‘Would like to do’… The Israeli test aircraft was delivered to their test squadron in November 2020. With Covid in play that means it will have not done a great deal in the timeframe. Israeli Specific Helmet? – No. The existing helmet is a joint venture with Elbit. More integrated EW – What does this mean? The EW system the F-35 has is already totally integrated, the Israeli’s are making minor changes to the EW system, nothing more. They are not replacing it,… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB
3 months ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

I don’t disagree, but I’m just repeating what is on the Israeli Airforce’s website. Where they state the helmet has been replaced with one specific for Israeli requirements – whatever that means? In regards to the EW, my thoughts are, since they have an active conflict in the North East, they are modifying the EW to counter both Russian and Chinese threats that they will likely be up against and possibly other systems that could be introduced. Although they are on friendly terms with Egypt these days, I would bet they have also put in place a counter to the… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
3 months ago
Reply to  Daveyb

I doubt the UK would pursue such a strategy at this stage as the only other weapon beyond Spear and Meteor that might be fitted to the UK’s F-35B is FC/ASW in the near term. It seems the UK have learnt some lessons with the F-35 program, which are reflected in comments made about Tempest back in 2018 at the public launch, where they specifically called out more rapid weapon and systems integration and need for IP creation, along with cost control being critical for RAF numbers. Perhaps ironically the delays and operating costs of F-35 just reinforce why the… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB
3 months ago

I agree the cost involved with weapons integration that are not a US product are probably some of the reasons why Brimstone and Storm Shadow aren’t included. It would also have been helpful to have Meteor integrated sooner just after it was on Typhoon.

However, once Meteor is integrated, I think we will have one of the best weapons packages that takes advantages of the F35’s low observability and it next generation avionics. He who sees first can shoot first and all that!

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
3 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

I agree that the combination of Meteor and Spear with F35 seems very compelling, Perhaps a reason Lockheed might be slow on the integration given their conflict of interest with a likely desire for AIM-260 sales to all F-35 users.

Storm Shadow was probably always a questionable add for F-35 given its 2030 OSD.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
3 months ago
Reply to  dan

It would be a good force multiplier if the F35 could carry extra Meteors externally as well and a couple additional ASRAAMs, 6/6 of both.

dan
dan
3 months ago

Easy come, easy go. lol

Chris
Chris
3 months ago

Can anyone tell me what these are actually armed with?

IKnowNothing
IKnowNothing
3 months ago

Did I miss the bit where they put timescales on these plans?

Andy a
Andy a
3 months ago

Hold on at the end are they boasting about decreasing weapon inventory? Have I read it wrong?

Lebron
Lebron
3 months ago
Reply to  Andy a

I believe they’re suggesting rather using 3 inaccurate bombs you can the same result with one upgraded Paveway

Pete
Pete
3 months ago
Reply to  Lebron

……and therefore instead of stocking 3000 you only carry 1000 in inventory !….is the implied consequence.

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
3 months ago

It’s always amazing how badly phrased questions can miss the full truth…or let a minister off the hook.

For example…the question asked was about Asraam…which is integrated and operational on F-35, it did not ask if there are additional costs for the new production Asraam Blk.6 (also known as CSP)…

I suspect most people who frequent UKDJ and other forums could draft a number of questions around UK military capabilities that would expose Ministers and give them no room for manoeuvre…pity the politicians don’t ask here…

John N
John N
3 months ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

When a politician asks another politician a question it’s good to know ‘who’ and ‘why’ the question is being asked.

Here in Australia we have a term for a pre-planned question asked of a Minister, it’s called a ‘Dorothy Dixer’.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Dixer

Here in Oz these questions are usually asked during Question time, gives the Minister the opportunity to stand up and grandstand and make a statement that suits the agenda of their party.

Cheers,

Julian
Julian
3 months ago

What weapons would F-35 use to engage a ship or is that simply not a requirement? As a lay person I would have thought that if Crowsnest saw something big and nasty heading towards the carrier group but still quite a way away F-35 would be useful to be able to get quickly to a target and engage it while still way, way over the carrier group’s horizon or is that such an edge case that it’s not worth the investment when I assume Merlin with Sea Venom is already planned for that scenario and maybe already planned F-35B weapons… Read more »

Ron5
Ron5
3 months ago
Reply to  Julian

Spear 3 & Paveway.

Ron5
Ron5
3 months ago

Peanuts and a whole lot less than we’ve been previously lead to believe.

Brimstone not being integrated on UK Apache helicopters saves a whole 70m at the cost of destroying any chance of exporting it to other Apache users like Australia.

Penny wise and pound foolish.

Rob N
Rob N
3 months ago

Any news on when Meteor is going to be added to UK F35B.

Deep32
Deep32
3 months ago
Reply to  Rob N

I be!I’ve the original intention was to get it integrated along with Spear 3 when Blk4 software comes out (2026ish now). Haven’t seen anything to suggest otherwise.

Rob N
Rob N
3 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

Thanks… I know they were working on a new fin shape to fit inside F35’s bay. But I would have liked to see it in service faster. Meteor combined with the F35 stealth and sensors will make for an game changing combination.