The UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) has announced that the UK Ministry of Defense has placed an order with MBDA to supply the miniature cruise missile system for F-35 fighter jets.
Missile specialist MBDA has received an order worth $ 746 million from the Royal Air Force to manufacture the SPEAR missile system.
SPEAR (known as SPEAR3 in UK service) is a 1.8 meter cruise missile system with a range of more than 140 kilometers.
SPEAR will be the main medium to long range assault weapon of the British F-35 fighter aircraft, allowing them to defeat challenging targets such as long range mobile air defense systems in any weather and at any range over the highly competitive environments.
“Developing this next-generation missile will enable us to protect our personnel and assets on the ground from thousands of feet in the sky,” said Secretary of Defense Jeremy Quin. “Our commitment to this system will secure hundreds of high-quality jobs across the UK and bring UK technology and weapons expertise to the world stage.”
SPEAR’s guided shots begin within 18 months with a Eurofighter Typhoon fighter aircraft. The production of missiles and launchers will begin in 2023. The new contract follows the successful implementation of the weapons development phase contract for SPEAR in 2016 and the contract for the integration of SPEAR on the F-35 in 2019.
The UK currently has 21 fifth generation Lightnings after receiving three new jets on November 30th. The initial operational capability of the platform (Maritime) was recently announced. Later that year, 617 Squadron Lightning Jets will sail with HMS Queen Elizabeth on their first Global Carrier Strike Group 21 deployment.