05:40 pm – Wednesday
Hallbergmoos, Germany – As future capability development continues
The MBDA SPEAR networked precision strike weapon was launched from Eurofighter Typhoon Production Aircraft BS116 earlier this year. The test flight was led by teams from MBDA and BAE Systems, with BAE Systems Chief Test Pilot Steve Formoso at the controls.
Following the launch, which took place at the UK Ministry of Defence’s Aberporth range, in Wales, the weapon transitioned to powered flight and completed a series of manoeuvres before reaching its pre-planned point of impact.
The Typhoon aircraft, which is subject to a continual programme of capability upgrades, has been designated as the test aircraft for trials and development of the weapon.
The SPEAR missile is being developed to meet the UK’s Selective Precision Effects At Range Capability 3 (SPEAR Cap 3) requirement for the UK’s F-35 Lightning II aircraft, with the potential to equip Typhoon. SPEAR will precisely engage long range, mobile, fleeting and re-locatable targets in all weathers, day or night, in the presence of countermeasures, obscurants and camouflage, whilst ensuring a safe stand-off range between the aircrew and threat air defences.
The test firing from the Typhoon was the culmination of trials work undertaken by MBDA to prove the weapon is ready to move to the next stage of development work, which will now continue through to 2020. SPEAR is one of a number of smart weapons which may be integrated on to the Typhoon aircraft to meet future operational requirements, including anti-ship missiles such as Marte-ER.
MBDA SPEAR 3 missile
According to MBDA, recent conflicts have demonstrated the need for precision strike weapons that can operate night and day in all weather conditions against severe countermeasures and importantly attack moving and manoeuvering targets. Powered by a turbojet engine, SPEAR has the beyond horizon reach to ensure that the aircraft remains safely away from hostile air defence units.
SPEAR is equipped with the latest generation precision effects warhead, designed to meet the demands of the future combat mission. This next generation air launched Surface Attack Weapon reduces the numbers of different weapons within inventory while also extending the operator’s ability to engage mobile, fleeting and re-locatable targets far beyond the horizon.
SPEAR Capability 3 @Think Defence
Fitted with the latest generation multi sensor seeker designed to operate in all combat conditions and to be able to engage a wide range of target types both on land and sea. SPEAR is effective against:
• Naval vessels
• Air Defence Units
• Defended structures
• Ballistic Missile launchers
• Fast moving and manoeuvering vehicles
• Main Battle Tanks, Self-Propelled Guns, Armoured Personnel Carriers
SPEAR 3 is a powered weapon, while the American-made Small Diameter Bomb II only glides. SPEAR 3 has two small side intakes for its Hamilton Sundstrand TJ-150 turbojet, and the engine opens up a whole range of unique capabilities for a weapon so small.
SPEAR Capability 3 Hamilton Sundstrand TJ-150 turbojet @Think Defence
This 80 kg mini-cruise missile can be launched even when not facing the target (differently from SDB) and with more freedom regardless of launch height and weather conditions that affect gliding. The weapon is to be able to engage fixed and mobile targets alike, with a data link enabling post-launch control and retargeting.
The propulsion is also fundamental in order to achieve the range of at least 100 km that the British MOD wants. SDB is a 45 nautical miles glide weapon, while the UK MOD and MBDA believe they can achieve north of 62 nautical miles for SPEAR.
Comparing size of SPEAR 3