MBDA has been awarded a contract to demonstrate SPEAR-EW, a new electronic warfare version of the SPEAR weapon system family on order by the UK.

The firm say that SPEAR-EW is being developed by MBDA in partnership with Leonardo to complete a wide range of Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD) missions, under a Technical Demonstration Programme (TDP) contract awarded by Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S).

“SPEAR-EW will integrate a cutting-edge miniaturised EW payload from Leonardo, which will act as a stand-in jammer to greatly increase the survivability of RAF aircraft and suppress enemy air defences, acting as a significant force multiplier.”

Defence Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said:

“These state-of-the-art electronic jammers will confuse our adversaries and keep our pilots safer than ever in the air. Paired with the devastating power of precision Brimstone and Meteor missiles, our world-class F-35 and Typhoon jets will continue to rule the skies in the years to come.

Mike Mew, MBDA UK Director of Sales and Business Development, said:

“SPEAR-EW is a revolutionary new capability that, alongside the existing SPEAR3 weapon, marks a fundamental change in the ability of friendly air forces to conduct their missions despite the presence of enemy air defences. Our vision for SPEAR is to create a swarm of networked weapons able to saturate and neutralise the most sophisticated air defences.

Adding SPEAR-EW to the family alongside our existing SPEAR strike missile demonstrates the principle of introducing complementary variants to the SPEAR family that will add significant capability and force multiplication without the need to repeat the platform integration. We have an exciting roadmap of variants, spirals and technology insertions in the pipeline to further enhance the family as we move forward.

The core of SPEAR-EW’s payload is Leonardo’s miniaturised Digital Radio Frequency Memory technology, which offers advanced and electronic jamming and deception.

The compact size of the SPEAR family allows four weapons to be carried internally in each of the two internal weapons bay of the F-35, or three per station on the Typhoon.

SPEAR-EW will keep the same form and fit as the baseline SPEAR to enable a single integration pathway and launcher solution, say MBDA.

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Paul.P
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Paul.P

So son of ALARM?

Martin
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Martin

It’s nearest equivalent is MALD J, SPEAR missile is the RAF’s replacement for ALARM.

Paul.P
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Paul.P

Educational pointer. Thx.

Michael Lee
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Michael Lee

There was a radar suppression drone that never made it into production of that was basically a cut down version of the Alarm receiver. It was an area suppression system, flying a preset patrol pattern.

This is not son of ALARM, as it was a passive receiver anti radiation missile – not a mobile platform with active counter measures.

donald_of_tokyo
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donald_of_tokyo

Looks like it is a jammer, not a strike missile?

Say, mix a few jammer SPEAR-EW within a swarm of SPEAR3 to keep the SPEAR3 itself “safe” from enemy SAM? Maybe jammer SPEAR-EW can fly along with F35B to keep the mother fighter silent, but still providing jamming on the enemy AAW system?

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

So a replacement for ALARM at last?

John Clark
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John Clark

In a sense Daniele, it must have a direct attack capability like the ALARM, but also capable of sophisticated spoofing, confusion EW.

Sounds very expensive!

Looks like Spear3 is growing into a family of weapons.

It will be an absolute game changer for the RAF, allowing a relatively small force of F35’s/ Thypoons to have a disproportionate effect.

James Fennell
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James Fennell

Not quite – its an offensive electronic attack weapon, not kinetic – MBDA describe its capabilities as “false target decoying and obscuration jamming”. Its job is not to destroy the air defences (regular Spear 3 can do that if desired) but to render them ineffective and overcome an anti-access/area denial (AA/AD) bubble. Leonardo say the payload is miniaturized and low cost and can detect, classify, jam and emit false electronic signatures. Its interesting that MBDA use the term ‘stand-in’, this is also used by the USAF to describe the Stand-in Attack Weapon counter-AA/AD variant of the AARGM-ER they are developing… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Thanks James.

DaveyB
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DaveyB

Yes and no. Alarm was a hard kill system, that had an ace up its sleeve – it could loiter. It did this by climbing to 100,000ft popping a parachute and waiting for the emitter to light up, then reactivating its motor to dive on the target. The Spear-EW does not contain any explosive charge. The best way to describe it is a combination of an active jammer married to the Spear3 chassis. The Spear3 missile has about an 85nm range, but this can be slightly extended by clever use of the turbojet’s throttle. It also has wings which allows… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

As always a detailed explanation. Thank you.

Cam
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Cam

Why don’t we have dedicated EW fast jets like USA, OZ or France? Not needed? I’ve always liked the US growlers.

Ben
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Ben

Because the Americans have more money to develop such things, and the Australians buy American. The only EW platforms the French have are some C-160 transports modified for ELINT gathering with no jamming capability.

dan
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dan

The Germans have the ECM Tornado. No where near as capable as a Prowler or Growler but alot better than nothing.

Ben
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Ben

The Tornado ECR has no jamming equipment. The electronic combat element of the aircraft is the addition of an integral emitter locating system to give the pilot a much more accurate bearing, range, and classification of radar emitters than a normal RWR would give to assist in the targeting of anti-radiation missiles. US F-16CJs carry a similar podded system called the HARM Targeting System under the forward fuselage and the Russians have had numerous podded systems in use for years such as Metel and Fantasmagoria.

Rudeboy
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Rudeboy

It should be noted that in the final couple of years of the Tornado F.3 the RAF started using them as SEAD platforms.
To their surprise it was excellent, primarily because of its very good and extensive RWR fit.

Martin
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Martin

No money, we barley have any fast jets as it is let alone specialist platforms.

Cam
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Cam

I know, but it wasn’t long ago when we had more than double our fast jet and I was on about why we didn’t have a dedicated platform or system then that we could still have today. But now I know.

DaveyB
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DaveyB

With the aircraft armed with Spear-EW and protected by Britecloud active decoys, you won’t need a dedicated EW aircraft as part of the support package.

Cam
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Cam

Ok fair enough.

dan
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dan

Thing about both those systems is they are very low power and have a very limited amount of things they do. Might be good going in with just those things against an SA-6 era SAM system but I seriously doubt any strike package going into an area defended by modern SAMs like the S300/400/500, ect would think having just those would be sufficient. Especially nowadays when just losing 1 aircraft is 1 too many.

DaveyB
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DaveyB

It depends on 1 – how close you are to the emitter when its transmitting and 2 – the transmitter power of the Spear3-EW. If we look at the S400 system, it uses a minimum of two search and track radars with a minimum of two missile launchers. It can also be networked with other radars to give better situational awareness and thus enlarging its search bubble, it can also control other missile batteries. Therefore giving it a better chance of seeing and shooting down a stealthy target through triangulation. It uses a lowish wavelength radar for searching and a… Read more »

dan
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dan

No idea why not. The UK has to rely on other countries, mainly the US, to perform jamming when they launch a strike mission against a country that has SAMs. Not sure why the Brits didn’t develop their own ECM version of the Tornado like the Germans did or buy an off the shelf solution like the Growler. I’m sure America would be more than willing to sell the Brits a squadron of them. That would take some pressure off the USN to always send a jammer along with the UK strike missions.

Michael Lee
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Michael Lee

Because the Eurofighter has it’s own integrated EW suite it’s simply not necessary.

James Fennell
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James Fennell

The advantage with something like Spear-EW is you don’t need to send a manned platform like Growler or Tornado ECR into the danger zone. A better solution. Back in the day we did modify some Tornado F3s as basic ECR platforms with Alarm and jammers. F-35 has a lot of sensors built in so a stand alone platform not really needed anymore – also attacks from outside the bubble need unmanned systems to accompany the swarm – like this concept and the USAF’s SiAW – not manned ECR platforms. Since its getting MoD funding, there is some hope we will… Read more »

Rise
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Rise

I think UKDFJ just copies the war zone for articles me thinks.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Who cares?

Rudeboy
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Rudeboy

This is from the press release that MBDA put out at DSEi.
The Warzone article was riddled with inaccuracies…including calling it Spear 3…