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Type Air-to-surface missile
Place of origin United Kingdom
Service history
Used by Royal Air Force
Production history
Manufacturer MBDA (UK) Ltd, Henlow
Weight < 100 kg
Length 1.8 m
Diameter 180 mm

Engine Turbojet engine[1]
Flight control surfaces
Typhoon (planned)
F-35B (planned)

The Select Precision Effects At Range (SPEAR) Capability 3 is a future British air-to-ground anti-tank, anti-structure, and anti-ship missile.[2][3]


MBDA was awarded an Assessment Phase contract for SPEAR 3, a stand off attack weapon that would replace Brimstone 2 (SPEAR Cap 2).[4] This is specified to have a range of at least 100 km, however the UK MoD and MBDA believe that they can achieve over 120 km (62+nm).[5][N 1] The weapon will make substantial reuse of Brimstone modules. The 2 m (6.6 ft) weapon will fly at high-subsonic speed using a turbojet and wing kit,[6] and will feature a multimode seeker with INS/GPS guidance and datalink.[6] The assessment phase concluded with flight trials in 2014[6] on Typhoon.[7] The missile is set to use the same Hamilton Sundstrand TJ-150 turbojet as the JSOW-ER.[5][N 2] MBDA has shown artwork of a four-missile launcher on a single Typhoon weapon station,[6] and four will fit with a Meteor air-to-air missile in each internal weapons bay of the F-35B.[6] In May 2016, the MOD awarded a £411 million contract to MBDA for the development of the air-launched SPEAR 3 missile specifically for the UK's F-35B fighters.[8] SPEAR 3 however, will only be integrated on the Block 4 software package of the F-35B.[9]

Integration on British Army ApacheEdit

On 17 March 2016, it was confirmed that a one-year feasibility study contract covering the integration of the Brimstone air-to-surface missile onto a Boeing AH-64E Apache had been awarded by the British MOD to MBDA and Boeing in the second half of 2015. This would lead a live firing test being carried out in the US in third quarter of 2016 using one of AH-64E test aircraft. The British Army Air Corps is exploring options for upgrading its Apache capability, currently in a UK-specific AH1 configuration that carries Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfires as its air-to-surface missile. The integration risk for Brimstone on the Apache is seen as low, with the work significantly focussing on the modification of the fire control software.[10]

Naval-launched SPEAR 3Edit

MBDA has started testing a maritime variant for use against swarms of small boats named Sea SPEAR.[11] On 25 June 2012 a Tornado GR4 dropped a prototype that hit and sank a 6-metre inflatable boat travelling at 20 kts in sea state 3.[12] The following month MBDA said that a viable system could be offered "within months"; the initial focus is on deployment from fast jets and surface launchers,[13] MBDA is marketing it in the Gulf for installation on vessels down to 15 m.[12] On 29 May 2013, MBDA conducted a salvo firing of three millimetric wave operational Brimstone missiles, launched from a fixed offshore platform, against a simulated attack formation of five targets representing FIACs (Fast Inshore attack Craft). The successful test firing demonstrated Sea SPEAR's ability to strike numerous individual targets. During the test one of the targets, a 15-m craft, was travelling at 20 knots.[14] MBDA pitted Sea SPEAR against the Raytheon Sea Griffin missile for integration onto American Littoral combat ships.[15] The Navy instead selected the AGM-114L Hellfire as a stop-gap missile for the LCS.[16]

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


  1. "High Performance Propulsion for Tactical Missiles and UAV’s". Whitney AeroPower. 19 May 2016. 
  2. "£411m invested in F-35s new anti-ship/tank/building mini-cruise missile". Navy News. 19 May 2016. 
  3. "Aimpoint selection: the UK's SPEAR Cap 3 air-to-surface weapon". IHS Janes. 19 May 2016. 
  4. "UK Study Contract Awarded to integrate Brimstone 2 onto Typhoon". Bae Systems. 29 March 2010. Retrieved 20 May 2016. 
  5. 5.0 5.1
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Hoyle, Craig (27 June 2012). "PICTURES: MBDA sharpens Spear missile design for F-35 integration". 
  7. "House of Commons Written Answers Hansard". UK Parliament. 21 May 2013. 
  8. "£411 million investment in new missile for UK's new jets sustains 700 UK jobs". UK Ministry of Defence. 18 March 2016. 
  9. "Storm Shadow dropped from UK's F-35B follow-on integration plan". IHS Janes. 20 May 2016. 
  10. "MBDA and Boeing studying Apache Brimstone integration". Flightglobal. 18 March 2016. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 Scott, Richard (11 July 2012). "MBDA targets Brimstone at anti-FIAC role". IHS Jane's. 
  13. Stevenson, Beth (10 July 2012). "Farnborough 2012: MBDA completes Sea Spear live firing". Digital Battlespace. 
  14. Doug Richardson (27 June 2013) "Brimstone Engages A Simulated FIAC Attack" IHS Jane's Missiles and Rockets
  15. Raytheon Working on Extending Range of Griffin Missile for LCS -, 23 June 2013
  16. Navy Axes Griffin Missile In Favor of Longbow Hellfire for LCS -, 9 April 2014
  1. "The UK MOD and MBDA believe they can achieve north of 62 nautical miles for SPEAR." - Navy Recognition July 2014
  2. "SPEAR 3 has two small side intakes for its Hamilton Sundstrand TJ-150 turbojet." - Navy Recognition July 2014

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