UK F-35s to deploy Spear 3 missiles
January 12, 2021 - Britain’s Royal Navy will equip its F-35B Lightning stealth jets operating from the decks of HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales with next-generation Spear 3 mini-cruise missiles.
In a recent €610 million (£550 million) deal with European weapons-maker MBDA, Spear 3 will become the F-35B’s principal strike weapon. The missile can knock out warships, tanks and armoured vehicles, missile launchers, bunkers, radar posts and air defence batteries.
Powered by a Pratt & Whitney TJ-150 turbojet, the missile flies at high subsonic speeds with a range of more than 140 kilometres.
The Spear 3 incorporates a multi-mode sensor seeker with millimetre wave (MMW) and Semi-Active Laser (SAL) or targeting flexibility. The seeker captures images at near optical wavelengths (94Ghz) producing high-resolution images for the system’s target recognition algorithms to evaluate.
The SAL seeker allows a special forces Forward Air Controller to “paint” a target for the missile using a laser. The seeker locks on to the laser’s reflected energy and flies itself to the target. The MMW seeker enables “fire and forget” missions.
A multi-effects warhead can be reprogrammed during flight and can produce a shaped-charge effect against armour, fragmentation effects against “soft” vehicles, or penetrate hardened structures and bunkers.
Spear 3 will become the principal strike weapon of the F-35Bs based on the HMS Queen Elizabeth Carrier Strike Group when it enters service in the mid-2020s.
- Carriers’ F-35 jets to get next-generation air-to-ground missile (Royal Navy)
- UK orders production of MBDA’s SPEAR mini-cruise missile (MBDA)
- UK signs Spear 3 missile production deal for F-35 fleet (FlightGlobal)
- New Spear 3 Missiles To Have Ten Times Range Of Brimstones (Forces Net)
- Britain signs 550 million sterling weapons contract for F-35 jets (Reuters)