On January 6, 2020, the United Kingdom announced a £500 million contract for the provision of air-to-ground attack missiles to be carried by F-35 fighter jets.
Developed by MBDA group, the SPEAR3 missile is currently in the demonstration stage. Its capabilities are being assessed before the start of mass production and deliveries to the military.
SPEAR3 will arm the UK’s fleet of carrier-borne Lockheed-Martin F-35B aircraft, as well as Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets.
According to the MOD’s press release, the range of the missile is over 140 kilometers (86 miles), and it can track moving targets, as well as avoid air defense systems. It is also said to have networking and swarming capability, with an electronic warfare variant in the works. Those capabilities would allow a swarm of such missiles to coordinate their attacks on an enemy target.
The demonstration and manufacture contract will be realized over a period of seven years, and includes various UK-based manufacturing and logistics companies that will produce the missile and deliver it to the military.
According to UK Defence Minister Jeremy Quin, the development and the manufacturing of the missile will provide over 570 jobs within the UK, with additional 200 jobs in the supply chain.
The contract marks a significant inward turn of the UK’s defense industry, which is aiming to adapt to the post-Brexit situation.