Hard Sums Ahead for SPEAR Cap 3



UK Complex (Guided) Weapons – Reference


Selective Precision Effects at Range (SPEAR) Capability 3 is the name for a set of requirements for an air-launched stand-off weapon to be used against a wide range of stationary and moving targets in day or night with the ability to defeat countermeasures.

This description could be given to Brimstone but the key difference between Brimstone and SPEAR Cap 3 is the latter has a turbojet engine and not a rocket motor, thus, it can travel much further. The warhead is also designed to provide selectable effects.

Clever stuff.

Clearly, it is designed to work with the UK’s future F35B fleet for attacks against integrated air defences using its increased stand-off distance to enhance the launch aircraft survivability. In other air interdiction missions against lesser capability air defences it will be used to destroy the full gamut of likely targets on the ground.

All well and good, but the problem with SPEAR Capability 3 is whilst it offers a number of technical benefits over the competition it represents a significant investment at a time of constrained budgets.

A key decision point is approaching to hard sums lie ahead for the MoD.

As part of my extended (sorry about that) look at the UK Complex Weapons portfolio approach this is a summary of the current position regarding SPEAR Cap 3.


SPEAR Capability 3 is part of a portfolio of air, land and sea-launched complex weapons.

Selective Precision Effects at Range, or SPEAR, is an RAF programme that is part of the 2010 Team Complex Weapons enabling contract that comprises a number of requirements and partners including Thales, MBDA and Roxel, QinetiQ and others.

The programme has evolved over time but the commonly accepted components are;

  • Fire Shadow Loitering Munition for the Royal Artillery that looks increasingly like it is going nowhere; click here to read more.
  • Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon (Heavy), a joint programme with the French for Anti Navire Léger. FASGW (H)/ANL that will arm the Royal Navy’s AW159 Lynx Wildcat helicopter and the French Navy’s NH90 and Panther helicopters. This is now called Sea Venom and will be manufactured and bought into service by MBDA; click here to read more.
  • Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM) or Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon (Light), being developed by Thales Air Defence to arm the Royal Navy’s AW159 Lynx Wildcat helicopter. Now called Martlet; click here to read more.
  • Future Local Area Air Defence System/Common Anti-Air Modular Missile has been recently confirmed as a replacement for Sea Wolf for the Royal Navy Type 23 frigate and new Type 26 frigates. The same missile will also be used to replace the Rapier in the ground based air defence role. Now called Sea and Land Ceptor respectively, click here to read more.
  • Storm Shadow Capability Enhancement Programme. A joint UK/French joint programme to enhance the Storm Shadow and SCALP cruise missiles (this is still on my to-do list)
  • Selective Precision Effects At Range (SPEAR) is not a single weapon but a collection of requirements, 1 to 3. Capability 1 embodies a range of upgrades to the already impressive Raytheon Paveway IV precision guided bomb. Capability 2 is being met by Brimstone 2 and Capability 3 is commonly called SPEAR, confusingly.


SPEAR Capability 3 is a Category A project (>£400m) described as;

A new 100 kg class weapon being developed to be the primary air to ground armament for the Lightning II (Joint Strike Fighter) from 2021; and optimised for internal carriage. SPEAR Cap 3 will provide the capability to destroy/defeat a wide range of targets at range, including mobile and re locatable targets, in all weathers, day and night, in all environments under tight rules of engagement.

The conceptual requirement emerged some time ago but was been given particular impetus by the proliferation of advanced Russian and Chinese air defence systems, especially the SA-21 and related systems.

Its key features include;

  • Internal turbojet with flush intakes and folding wings
  • F35B internal or external carriage with 4 per bay on the F35
  • External carriage on the Typhoon (although this does not seem to be in the current plan)
  • 100km plus range (reportedly 120km)
  • Two way datalink for re-tasking during flight
  • GPS/INS, Millimetric Radar and Semi Active Laser (SAL) terminal guidance (final options to be confirmed)
  • Multi fuzing and tuneable warhead

The turbojet propulsion is used to provide extended range, headwind resistance, survivability against air defence weapons and additional flexibility.

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MBDA SPEAR Internal Carriage F35[/tab] [tab title=”SPEAR Image 3″]

SPEAR Capability 3

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SPEAR Capability QE Carrier

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SPEAR mockup

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There have been a number of feed in research programmes including the Sensor to Effector Phase 2 and Time Sensitive Target Test Bed that have developed the control and communication systems between the weapon and other platforms.

MBDA have also suggested that with a suitable booster, SPEAR Cap 3 could be quad packed in a Mk41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) silo to provide a 70km plus anti-surface weapon.

Quad Packed SPEAR

Status and Issues

The SPEAR Capability 3 Assessment Phase also included Capability 2 block 2 and Sea Ceptor so when the National Audit Office report, the individual component costs are not clear.

The real issue with SPEAR Capability 3 is that the MBDA version is not the only game in town. Raytheon has their Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) Increment II or GBU-53. There is no doubt SDB-II has less capability, it is a glide only weapon and thus has a lower time to target (which enables the launch aircraft the get the f**k out of dodge sooner) and longer range (greater stand-off distance).

The SDB-II has a tri-mode seeker (SAL, IR and MMW) and a larger warhead than SPEAR Cap 3.

What it does have though, is a production contract.

[tabs] [tab title=”SDB-II”]


[/tab] [tab title=”SDB-II Video 1″]

[/tab] [tab title=”SDB-II Video 2″]

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Raytheon are on the public relations offensive and have hinted that a UK SDB-II could be made at their UK manufacturing facility.

The MoD is keeping tight-lipped but what has been released indicates that both MBDA and Raytheon are providing data that will enable an informed decision point to be reached, possibly this year, with a final decision coming in 2017-2018.

The UK will have to fund development of the MBDA weapon and integration with any aircraft the MoD want to launch it from, at least the F35 and potentially, the Typhoon and any future unmanned aircraft in the FCAS vision. If the SDB-II were selected at least the F35B integration costs could be eliminated. This might sound trivial but as we know, integration of complex weapons onto complex aircraft is a very expensive hobby, Storm Shadow on Typhoon is costing £150m for example.

Apart from Saudi Arabia, the air-launched weapons (Brimstone and Paveway IV) have not done well in export market and prospects for Sea Venom and Martlet remain unclear beyond the launch customers of France and the UK, although to be fair, they have yet to enter service. By contrast, Sea Ceptor has secured export orders even before it comes into service, a promising sign for longer term success.

Where does this leave the export potential for Cap 3?

Difficult to say, after all, who can predict the future, but will potential buyers be interested given the likely cost differential between it and SDB-II or will the F35 partner nations simply go for the cheaper option and accept the performance compromise, assuming SDB-II is in fact, cheaper.

The F35B is not scheduled to carry the SDB-II until 2022 as part of Block 4a software and recent news indicates some minor modifications (hydraulic line and bracket) to the bomb way will be required in order to allow the carriage of 4 per bay, these are planned to be incorporated into the production aircraft from 2019 onwards.

Whether these plans come to fruition within the proposed timescale is open for discussion.

Another interesting aspect of the Boeing SDB-I offering is its potential for carriage on a GMLRS rocket.

This has nothing to do with the SDB-II from Raytheon but it is still an interesting concept and one which is likely to be explored further for the SDB-II.

A Few Thoughts

There is no doubt the MBDA SPEAR Cap 3 weapons could be as a significant a step forward as Meteor is over AMRAAM but the ever present question remains. In shooting for the moon will the UK fall short and end up with an overly expensive, exquisite spec, UK only weapon, ordered in tiny quantities that cannot take advantage of economies of scale, and one that is rapidly overtaken?

The SDB-II is likely to be produced in thousands, current plans indicate approximately 17,000 for the US forces alone. It is this scale that allows it to develop and improve at a reasonable cost.

Could Raytheon simply add a turbojet, however much a redesign that would take, and would this cut the MBDA missile off at the legs, Raytheon are reportedly open to the idea?

If SPEAR 3 is the only UK weapon that has some possibility of export sales into the future F35 market then it should be a no brainer but only if it offers a compelling technical and financial proposition to that market.

As usual with these decisions they are not taken in isolation, issues such as sovereign design and manufacturing capability need to be considered and if the USA do not take Brimstone (as they clearly should) why should we take SDB-II?

The MoD has a finite budget, and certainly a finite budget for complex weapons. There are many competing draws on the defence Pound and it has to ask a very simple question.

Is the MBDA SPEAR Cap 3 worth the extra cost?

Make no mistake, every Pound spent on developing the weapon will be a Pound not spent on something else so it is not a simple question of specification.

Rather than spreading our jam too thinly, could the UK double down on Brimstone and the other complex weapons to get a greater capability return?

There is certainly much potential in Brimstone to keep the UK parts of MBDA in design and production work.

Change the rocket motor and add a TV imager and data link for a Spike NLOS replacement, integrate it on Predator and Apache to remove Hellfire from the inventory, investigate drop launch, push on with Sea Spear, get it onto Wildcat and the F35B, develop a tripod launched version for SF and coastal defence and even replace the gapped Swingfire capability as armoured recce overwatch.

I like every single one these concepts, they allow us to maximise our not inconsiderable investment in the Brimstone missile, open up further export opportunities and provide a range of capability enhancements for use in our most likely operating scenarios.

There are also other systems in the complex weapons pipeline that need investment.

A UK F35B with Paveway IV, ASRAAM and SDB-II compared to a UK F35B with Paveway IV, ASRAAM and SPEAR Cap 3 (MBDA) doesn’t seem all that different.

However, if that difference is the difference between being inside or outside the IAD danger bubble then actually, it is a big difference, potentially the difference between exiting the bubble or not.

The S-400 has a range in excess of 250km, far outranging either weapon in any event but against medium-range missile systems like the SA-11 (BUK), and those projected to be in service in the next decade or so, the difference between the SDB-II and SPEAR Cap 3 may be more significant.

The other question is that of operational likelihoods, how often will the additional capability actually be needed?. Personally I find it unlikely we will be duking it out with Russia anytime soon and see playing whack-a-mole in the Middle East and Africa as the more likely operational template. How many times are we likely to go up against a sophisticated air defence system, alone, or will the UK more likely be in a coalition with the US. I know many of you think this is simply subscribing to the doctrine of ‘someone else will do it’ i.e. the US, but matching the US on a capability basis across the board leads to only one thing, not enough of everything.

All of this will no doubt form part of the detailed assessment.

Without seeing the detailed information, I must admit to being sceptical that the MBDA SPEAR Cap 3 represents good value for money for the UK’s stretched defence budget. It is easy to say we should develop our own or go for the 100% solution but in doing so, somewhere in the MoD, another capability will suffer.

Words are easy.

Maybe a better option would be to consolidate and expand on what we already have and invest in what comes after SDB and Brimstone, interestingly, at the Paris Air Show MBDA floated their CVW102 Flexis concept, one missile to rule them all, or perhaps more accurately, one kits of parts to rule them all.

Janes have a good article on Flexis, here

Hard sums and tough decisions ahead.




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The Other Chris
June 18, 2015 10:50 am

Some of the answers will likely pop out of BAE’s Common Weapon Rail program for Typhoon.

June 18, 2015 12:00 pm

I thought it was the main key to an anti-ship weapon for the Typhoon and the F-35B. If the UK needs an ai-launched ASuW missile..

June 18, 2015 12:06 pm

“Rather than spreading our jam too thinly, could the UK double down on Brimstone and the other complex weapons to get a greater capability return?”

But isn’t that what SPEAR 3 is? My understanding of SPEAR 3 (possibly mistaken) is that it is part of a continuous development program from the original Brimstone missiles: Brimstone, duel-mode Brimstone, Brimstone 2 and then finally SPEAR 3? If I’m right the development costs probably won’t be that high, most of the clever stuff will already have been developed for Brimstone 2, what SPEAR 3 appears to do is add a different motor and a new fuselage with pop-out wings to existing hardware & software (it’s not clear to me if the warhead, fuse and data-link will be developed for Brimstone 2 or SPEAR 3). It seems to be a pretty clever development to me, taking the existing Brimstone missile and turning it into an SDB-II class weapon.

June 18, 2015 12:19 pm

Raytheon has successfully developed a powered version of the glide JSOW bomb. So there’s a precedent to a powered SDB-II.

Long Time Listener
Long Time Listener
June 18, 2015 12:36 pm

Last time I checked there were 5 SPEAR requirements. Have the latter two been dropped?

Necessary Evil
Necessary Evil
June 18, 2015 1:50 pm

Actually, according to this article by Air Power Australia (which although it has strong biases, seems to be well up on the technical side), the range of the opposing forces’ air defence missiles is not the crucial factor in determining whether SPEAR-3 offers increased capability; rather, it is range at which they can detect stealth aircraft (See diagram 6)


This seems to suggest that the additional range and higher speed of SPEAR-3 will in fact be crucial against air defences using the latest Russian air defence equipment. In fact, if it offers the edge this article suggests it will, it actually goes a long way to negating one part of Air Power Australia’s argument against the F-35, which is its air-to-ground ability against the state-of-the-art air defences. METEOR also seems to detract from the other part, the air-to-air ability against other 5th generation aircraft (assuming the F-35 has METEOR and the opposing force’s aircraft do not).

Since we do not have an B-2 or F-22 for SEAD, and plans to acquire a SEAD missile any time soon, the additional capability offered by SPEAR-3 could potentially be the difference between being able to act independently against an opposing force equipped with state-of-art air defences, and having to rely on the Americans to all the heavy lifting. Given all this, I fully expect the SPEAR-3 programme to be cancelled.

June 18, 2015 2:37 pm

4 per internal bay is impressive.

I was left asking a number of questions, though (perhaps I should reread the leading-in article):
1. The glide only vs rocket motor argument was only mentioned; pro’s & cons were not developed
2.SPREAR3 was originally touted as a much cmaller SS replacement… Is it really? Or do we need a JSM (external carried only on the B!) purchace for proper stand-off (much more than 120 km) work as well as providing an ASuW capability against bigger than a frigate targets?
– on that JSM note, then we would have it ship-launched, too. When was it that the Harpoons in the inventory will expire?

June 18, 2015 2:45 pm
Reply to  Necessary Evil

Necessary Evil really nailed it, as for the overall capability (decisions)
– as opposed to which missile programs to keep alive, not to become totally dependent on another sovereign actor, in the long run

Rocket Banana
June 18, 2015 4:16 pm

Although I can see the value of SDB as simply a precision weapon, I struggle to see any value with only a 40nm range. The 60nm of the SPEAR3 is a little better but still not wonderful.

If you wanted to take out an IADS node why not use Storm Shadow or JSM (forgetting for the moment that JSM will only fit into F35A and F35C)? Is it anything to do with needing to take out multiple tagets per node – radar, command and missile vehicles all being separate?

I’m with TD in that whatever we do we should maximise our investment in Brimstone and if that means simply creating Brimstone’s bigger brother then so be it.

June 18, 2015 5:13 pm
Reply to  Rocket Banana

“If you wanted to take out an IADS node why not use Storm Shadow or JSM…”

The advantage of using a mini-missile like SPEAR3 is that one tactical fighter can carry a lot of them, whereas most of them are limited to 2 missiles at once if you use a large cruise missile. That means that one aircraft can carry enough ordnance to take out multiple IADS nodes on one sortie and/or can carry spare missiles to deal with unexpected pop-up threats. Mini-missiles like SPEAR3 and SDB-II are a huge game-changer IMO, though of course the big cruise missiles and LGBs still have a role.

“Is it anything to do with needing to take out multiple tagets per node – radar, command and missile vehicles all being separate?”

So basically the answer is yes. :)

Jeremy M H
June 18, 2015 6:22 pm


I don’t get the sentiment that the US should buy Brimstone. It’s a nice piece of kit to have but I don’t see any gaping hole it really fills. If integration were free and painless then sure but it isn’t. What do you think it is needed for?

Jeremy M H
June 18, 2015 6:37 pm

On the two systems being discussed I don’t see either as being primarily about operations against IADS. They are really just part of the equation that against a high level system would include decoys, electronic warfare and anti-radiation missiles as well as bigger cruise missiles with more range.

The big advantage of these systems would really seem to be that as you fight that battle against the known major components of the IADS these weapons can be kind of a quick reaction mention employed against all the other associated pieces of the puzzle. If one strike aircraft can in theory destroy 6-8 targets the cost of letting one or two slip in could honestly be pretty high. You only have so many backup radars and what not that you need to make the system work.

Time to target may not be ultra short but it’s a heck of a lot quicker than any standoff weapon lobbed from hundreds of miles away. If I expend say 30 TLAM going after your main search radar I want to take advantage of whatever downtime or distraction I do get to assault the other elements of the system as broadly as possible. These small weapons are great for that.

June 18, 2015 7:11 pm
Reply to  Jeremy M H

Brimstone is a possible off-the-shelf alternative to JAGM (Joint Air to Ground Missile) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_Air-to-Ground_Missile which the US are currently, if rather slowly, developing.

The Other Chris
June 18, 2015 7:31 pm

The US do not have a Hellfire class weapon that can be launched at high subsonic or supersonic speeds.

Jeremy M H
June 18, 2015 7:40 pm

I would say JAGM kind of illustrates the conundrum with Brimstone. The U.S. seems to want to start with helicopters and then look at using it on fast jets. Correct me if I am wrong but Brimstone has it the other way around right now.

The approach from what I have seen is basically to replace Hellfire with something new that does SAL and MMW homing and then add a tri-mode seeker to the thing. Finally they would look to integrate it for fast jet carriage to replace Maverick, which would mostly be replaced by SDBII before they get to that point anyway.

Hadn’t read up on JAGM in a while but it looks like increment 1 is a go for what amounts to a dual mode Hellfire and increment 2 with the tri-mode seems pretty likely if they can cram the SDBII sensor on there.

Jeremy M H
June 18, 2015 7:42 pm

I get that they don’t have it. But do they really need it or is it just something that would be nice to have? Even in the Hellfire replacement contest it appears such capability is a fairly low priority.

June 19, 2015 11:02 am

Given the capabilities SPEAR 3 will give I am in favour of carrying on. If we don’t integrate SPEAR 3 then we will integrate Brimestone so we will have to suffer the £150 million integration costs anyway.

SEAD is the biggest capability gap in the RAF today with the possible exclusion of MPA and the SPEAR 3 F35 combo should go a long way to solve that problem. With such a small fleet of F35 we also need to maximise the benefits of the fleet 6 internally carried SPEAR 3 vs 4 SDB II seems like a no brainier to me for an extra £500 million.

Questions are already being asked in the USA about sticking 3rd and 4th gen weapons on a 5th gen aircraft like F35.

Not much point though in spending a further £150 million putting in on Typhoon though unless the Saudi’s are willing to pay. Briemstone 2 should be more than good enough for Typhoon.

The Other Chris
June 19, 2015 11:12 am

Brimstone can’t be carried internally by the F-35 as its rail-launched not drop-launched. The rail would need to be lowered into the airstream before firing.

Intention is to quad-pack SPEAR 3 on F-35 (triple pack on Typhoon) whether SDB-II or MBDA SPEAR is selected.

June 19, 2015 12:14 pm

@ necessary evil

That section on Australian air power makes for compelling reading and I think shows why the RAF initially opted for a longer rang weapon than SDB.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
June 20, 2015 8:27 am

The “sovereign design and manufacturing capability”, issue has again raised its ugly head. In the current and future climate of increasingly tight budgets, this can no longer be a real reason for developing home grown uber weapons for the UK only. UK industry, in the main BAe Systems need to tailor any proposal in response to a UK MoD capability requirement with both eyes on export potential. The same consideration need to be made by the MoD, is there something out their that already does 80-90% of the requirement. Designing bespoke UK kit and than trying to sell it doesn’t really work anymore.

Brimstone 2 has attracted a fair amount of interest form the USMC and they have been impressed by trails. Could the UK try to interest the USMC in a halfway house. such as a Brimstone 2 with a wing package. The suggestion that we need to maximise our investment return with Brimstone is a no brainer. As the AH-64E replaces the Longbow Radar with a datalink to allow control of and targeting via UAVs/UCAVs, Brimstone would be an obvious choice to replace hellfire. A modular armoured launcher for Hellfire has already been developed that carrier 8 rounds and fits everything from a LAV to a M113 to a Bradley chassis. Again fitting a datalink etc. to add targeting by UAVs etc. mounted the launcher on a FRES(SV) or FRES(UV) chassis and you had a pretty effective and flexible direct and indirect weapon system. You could even fit it to the back of a Viking to give the RM some much needed punch. It could be looked at as even a poor mans medium range GLMRS!

Another weapon I think we should give a serious look at is the French AASM. In service on the Rafale it has, in its three existing versions been a great success. It low cost, effectiveness and flexibility together with its planned growth path including extended range with a glide wing mean it could replace both Brimstone and Paveway IV for the F-35B. Due to its attractive price, if the UK announced its intention to purchase the AASM for the F-35, I ma pretty sure other F-35 Users would be very interested, possibly provide funding for integration, as would the French as the possibility of additional export and foreign investment in further development would be welcome.

Back to industry. As in the case of the F-35, Europe is going to find it harder and harder to compete with the US in many areas. With future main platforms being of US design, the cost of integrating non US weapons systems on the these platforms is going to be major obstacle, especially where a US alternative is already available, even if it only matches 80% of the capability of the European alternative. They only way forward id for Europeans industry to work together on projects such as Meteor and SCALP/Storm Shadow. WE should seriously look at what is entering service or nearing service around Europe and compare it to our requirements list. Whether is become a case of we adopt country A’s weapon and they adopt ours and so on should be looked upon as a positive. The alternative is to buy the same weapon package as the US does. Bang for your buck is going to become a vital issue if we are to be able to continue to maintain our effectiveness. We complain about the US attitude to NIH items, but at least they have the money to follow that path. We cannot afford to be bespoke Rolls Royce cars when a fleet of Mondeos would do the job 80% of the time

June 20, 2015 8:50 am

LJ, could not agree more.

Having said that, defence industry integration on European scale seems to have missiles as one of the very few success stories?
Just thinking of aircraft, surface combatants, MBTs…

June 20, 2015 9:30 am


SPEAR CAP 3 is exactly what you describe. Far from being UK only, its being designed as a key enabler for F-35 so that we can export to the entire F-35 community. Probably far far more value than any JSM exports on F-35.

Worth noting that recent european cooperation with France over Sea Skua replacement has screwed us over. Even with a shared requirement we’ve ended paying for everything for a vague promise that the French might buy it. We need to be a bit more protective of our technical capability in the UK (one of the main objectives of Team Complex Weapons) otherwise we’ll just get screwed by other european countries.

June 20, 2015 10:32 am
We need to be a bit more protective of our technical capability in the UK (one of the main objectives of Team Complex Weapons) otherwise we’ll just get screwed by other european countries.

Yes, you are right Hannay, I would suggest that the British state becomes shareholder of BAE, but it’s not in your culture, too bad.

June 20, 2015 10:39 am

I’m going to disagree with LJ to an extent and with acc. Five airforces in Europe use typhoon the only principle airforce not to is France due to its own industrial protectionism. 3 use gripen. The leopard mbt is used by more than a dozen European countries admittedly not the UK or France. Ships are another matter entirely. You can outsource to the U.S. But be prepared to change a lot of UK standards and requirements or you’ll be spending a lot on cash because you would be well down the food chain. Paveway 4 is very good but efforts to export it have been dogged by U.S. Congress interventions.

Rocket Banana
June 20, 2015 11:06 am

Can someone please explain what the difference is between SPEAR3 and Sea Venom (FASGWH) in terms of end effect?

I know we’re only supposed to be discussing SPEAR3 but we need a drop-launched Brimstone and should integrate it onto Wildcat (and Apache if we can). Whatever Sea Spear is it should be the same as SPEAR3 and should be integrated into the F35, Wildcat and Typhoon.

The way I see it, we only need four strike weapons:

Paveway IV (drop only)
Storm Shadow (400km cruise – external drop only)
FASGWH / SPEAR3 (100km cruise – drop or rail)
Brimstone2 (50km rocket – drop or rail)

June 20, 2015 11:28 am

One issue in my mind with using US weapons is that they are kind of crap and dated in comparison with what we are creating.

AMRAAM vs Meteor
Storm Shadow vs JASSM ( latest version is now better)
Brimestone vs MAVERICK or Hellfire

Even Paveway IV was essentially a British weapon. The U.S. are creating many great weapon systems and capabilities but in missile and bomb development they are a bit backward. if SPEAR is integrated into F35 I can see there being a massive market for it as it’s clearly far superior to SDB II for the F35 and if other nations don’t have integration costs then system costs come down, especially if they don’t have to buy too many.

June 20, 2015 2:13 pm


That goes , partially, back to the one (and only) success story of European defence integration. Even though JASSM is way ahead of SS, that is only a detail.

The other thing is that the US developments (the speed at which they push them ahead) are driven by on-going threat assessments, unlike ours (we strive to maintain the ever shrinking areas of expertise, and stretch out the programmes through drip funding, for so long that the export success that “might have been” never quite materialises.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 20, 2015 2:38 pm
Reply to  Rocket Banana

fasgw is specifically designed as an anti ship missile, designed to be launched at reasonably slow speed and low altitude. Then fly at low altitude over the sea with a flight profile and ECM make up designed to defeat a surface vessel.
SPEAR 3 is designed to offer a capability vs land targets primarily

June 20, 2015 3:26 pm

This Flexis thing looks like CAMM with pop-out wings. So, if MBDA is telling us, we can make the most out of the CAMM family by changing parts on requirement, I’m all in. Replace the rocket-engine with a turbojet, diamond-pop-wings on the back, exchangeable seeker… would like to know, what the difference to SPEAR Cap 3 would be.

June 21, 2015 3:44 am

@ ACC – no doubt the latest version of JASSM is now better than Storm shadow but back in 2003 SS was pretty amazing capability. No doubt after spear 4 upgrade it will be again.

The U.S. had weapons that were so far ahead of anyone else a decade or two ago that they seem to have become a bit lazy in developing latest generation ones and in my opinion rely too much on upgrades. Missile technology is about the only area that we really excel in at the moment but ending SPEAR will stop this.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
June 21, 2015 8:03 am

I fully agree that SPEAR 3 would provide a very effective weapon system, but can we afford the development and integration costs on our own? Being a bespoke item its costs are going to be higher than alternatives and this is going to beheld against it when in completion with other systems such as SDB II.

Europe has had a lot of success with its missile programmes but it has too many that basically deliver the same capability or as near to it. Meteor is the stand out but if you look at short range IR missile then you have ASRAAM, IRIS-T, MICA. Europe can and does produce world class equipment but the perceived need to maintain a sovereign design and manufacturing capability, pushes up costs in an era where everybody is short of funds. Economies of scale mean the USA is going to be in a stronger and stronger position. If Europe wants to compete it needs to follow the Airbus model and consolidate. Yes this will cause repercussions in the US, where they see Airbus as having an unfair advantage, but looking beneath the surface both sides receive funding from government. I personally think the fact that Airbus can compete with Boeing effectively is the real reason for the disquiet in the US.

Back to SPEAR 3, if we want to move ahead we need to lock in customers at this stage. There are various incentives to aid this, not least a reduction in price due to increased orders and possibly shared costs. This is what I am trying to get across regarding exports. If a product is as good as it appears you should be able to sell it if the price is right. Trying to export an item at the same time as trying to recoup costs means you often price yourself out of the market.

As far as maintaining a sovereign design and manufacturing capability, this should be looked at on a Europe wide basis not country by country. So the UK and France would take the lead on Aerospace support by the rest. Germany and France would take the lead on AFVs and Spain and Italy would probably take the lead on ship building. This does not mean countries do not retain the ability to manufacture and partake in development, but the burden for the latter is shared and the former is a national choice. The former may add costs to a project if we for example wish to manufacture a system, duplicating and existing production facility in Europe but that would be our governments choice and their responsibility to justify.

I know there have been projects where co-operation had lead to major problems, Typhoon being a good example, but there have also been many successes, Jaguar, Lynx, Puma, Tornado. Germany is beginning the programme to find a successor to the Leopard 2. Surely this is an ideal programme to join as we look to replace the Challenger 2 at some point.

So if SPEAR is that good we should not have any problem locking in customers in advance if it is such a key system for the future of the F-35. IF we don’t we will end up with a bespoke system as has happened before as other buyer of the F-35 purchase cheaper alternatives as cost is king now and will be in the future.

Necessary Evil
Necessary Evil
June 21, 2015 9:44 am

Jeremy M H suggested that SPEAR 3 will most likely only be part of an anti-IADS effort, along with electronic warfare and AARM, but the problem with this is that we will not have either of these capabilities for the foreseeable future, and therefore would still need to rely on the US to break down air defences for us. Whilst will most likely be acting in concert with them in any future conflict, if we have SPEAR-3 then we will be able to contribute to the anti-IADS effort from day one. The only real alternative I see is to wait until the US develop their new AARM and then integrate it the internal bay of the F-35B (as the US is unlikely to do this), but this will most likely take longer than SPEAR-3 and may well be even more expensive. If we just go for the SDB, I think we might as well have just gone for non-stealthy aircraft, as we are unlikely to be involved on day one.

June 21, 2015 10:48 am

@ Lord Jim

That’s a nice wish list but how exactly would you get the rest of Europe to comply with it especially the French. If SPEAR had a true OTC replacement I would be for it but it does not and its quite unique at present. Soon in this instance it’s worth trading off something else to keep it.

If our Air Force is unable to conduct SEAD/DEAD against even a limited Air Defence system then seriously is their any point in having it. Once an air defence is taken down then most other jobs can be done by drones or basic ground attack aircraft.

June 21, 2015 11:15 am

Alternative, IADS is not taken down and all you can use is drones?

Happened in Ukraine, at first the Ukrainian airforce was active, and then it vanished altogether from the scene. And there was IADS, just a few advanced systems handed over to the rebels.

Jeremy M H
June 21, 2015 1:00 pm
Reply to  Martin

That is an interesting way to look at things though I think it is probably good that decision makers don’t tend to take such a nationalistic view on things.

AMRAAM v Meteor is an interesting one. I like Meteor and think it’s worth pursuing. Will be interesting to see just how much it really impacts things operationally when used in test and in actual combat.

Storm Shadow and JASSM are effectively the same thing. The U.S. Farted around with JASSM for a while but then again it hard a large stock of other cruise missiles to choose from that would do basically the same job. Once it came time to replace the large numbers of CALCM it got done.

Brimstone is a neat weapon systems but there is a reason that it hasn’t sold anywhere other than the UK and Saudia Arabia (who seems to buy a bit of everything). In its initial form it was fairly specialized. In its upgraded form it becomes a nice to have but it really doesn’t add a ton over existing paid for weapons already in global inventories. if it did there would be buyers, particularly among the Tornado and Typhoon users.

Spear3 doesn’t yet exist in a form one can buy it. SDBII is under production contracts. It another situation like Brimstone honestly. Yes there is some improvement but do users want to pay for it or would they rather have other capabilities?

Personally I would venture that most F-35 users would likely be content with SDBII and would instead use development funds and the procurement savings to buy something like the updated version of AARGM that the Navy is moving towards. Rather than a marginal improvement at an unknown cost you are buying a new capability all together.

That is really what it comes down to. To compete with SDBII you have to be in the ballpark on price and pick up the integration cost on the hope that others agree it’s worth whatever the increased unit cost vs the alternative is. And in doing so the UK spends its scarce defense dollars for what is a marginal capability increase rather than say an ARM or a true anti shipping missile.

I think it is pretty clear why the MOD may not go down that route.

Jeremy M H
June 21, 2015 1:09 pm
Reply to  Necessary Evil

I don’t think that without Spear or even SDBII one can’t be involved in first day operations. I just think both are part of the equation. Storm Shadow and JASSM have roles in that to. So do jamming platforms, decoys and ARM weapons.

To me the importance of such weapons is the number of secondary systems that it allows you to hit while your more expensive weapons go after the fairly fixed location critical components such as command centers and big volume search radars.

Brian Black
Brian Black
June 21, 2015 5:51 pm

We shouldn’t assume that Spear3 couldn’t find foreign customers just because Brimstone and PavewayIV haven’t been readily snapped up.

The natural customers for Brimstone and PavewayIV would be the handful of countries that operate Tornado and Typhoon; but these are going through much the same aircraft transition as the RAF -from Tornado to Typhoon to Lightning- and they’re doing it on the same shrunken budgets too.

There is a question about how much these countries want to spend upgrading their Tornado fleets and integrating new weapons while those fleets are already declining towards exiting service altogether. There are also users’ existing stocks of JDAM and LJDAM to consider, and so whether they have the same priority for new weapons at the moment.

When it comes to Typhoon, the RAF is leading the upgrade to a duel role including strike capability. Other countries, including Germany, the other big operator, seem a lot less concerned about Typhoon strike role. Other users seem to be happier to keep Typhoon as a fighter, and to transition the strike role from Tornado to Lightning.

The first (dummy) Brimstone were only fitted to Typhoon six months ago. So with other Typhoon operators moving slower, or not at all, to incorporate a strike capability, is it any surprise that the other operators don’t snap up the weapons?

Lightning should provide a better prospect for finding new Brimstone, PavewayIV, and Spear3 sales. It’s just unfortunate timing with Typhoon and Tornado; but Brimstone and PavewayIV will be integrated on Lightning right from the start of their entry into service with many more operators.

The opportunity is there for a UK development of Spear; just takes a little ambition.

The Other Chris
June 21, 2015 6:33 pm

I don’t think CAMM(M) had secured exports at this point in its development.

June 21, 2015 8:48 pm

@ T.O.C.

What about New Zealand, thought they had a confirmed order for the ANZAC frigate upgrade?

The Other Chris
June 21, 2015 8:49 pm

They have now, but hadn’t back when CAMM(M) was at the point in development that MBDA SPEAR is currently.

June 21, 2015 9:32 pm

I see the various Complex Weapons programmes as a model for what we are generally doing right. It is an European collaboration but one that seems to have been funded fairly effectively and not held up by our Partners. Surely we have lost Typhoons export orders due to lack of integration funding and this is an issue but Brimstone, CAMM and Meteor all seem well specified, and to have been development successes.

Do we want to sell our best technology to others? America holds their’s back so is it an issue that commercially there aren’t too many export orders. Although I do think we need either the JSM/NSM or the LRASM to add to the collection. I also believe Brimstone is ideal as a Hellfire replacement (USMC and Army take note).

Vertical launched Spear Cap 3 sounds good and can we not put these on our AH64s / Wildcat? These developments offer so much potential, this program demonstrates all that is right. High technology, easily adapted in times of need to meet the needs and threats presented. Look at Dual mode Brimstone, the biggest issue once again was integration funding, however it’ll get easier with fewer types of jets and reuse of tecnhology.

Jeremy M H
June 22, 2015 2:10 am

Has Brimstone been integrated to helicopters yet? I keep hearing it’s a perfect replacement for Hellfire but as far as I know it isn’t yet a helicopter based weapon.

It probably would have sold very well as a Hellfire replacement if it could actually replace Hellfire missiles. As it stands it doesn’t so one can’t really call it a replacement yet.

The market for it as a fast jet weapon is more difficult. One it doesn’t really directly replace anything so that in and of itself makes it a harder sell. Two it competes in various ways against Maverick, SDBII, CBU-97 and a variety of French and Russian weapons of similar capabilities. All of those weapons have their good and bad aspects (including Brimstone) but the point is there is a lot of competition.

A Hellfire upgrade and replacement on the other hand has a large market of Apache users and only the one competitor for now. But for whatever reason this role hasn’t been done yet.

Seems to me the Brimstone story has always been almost but not quite as far as being a marketable thing for other forces.

June 22, 2015 3:45 am

@ Jeremy M H

I don’t think that without Spear or even SDBII one can’t be involved in first day operations. I just think both are part of the equation. Storm Shadow and JASSM have roles in that to. So do jamming platforms, decoys and ARM weapons.

Not sure if you have noticed but we don’t have any jamming platforms, decoys or ARM weapons. Nor do we have any plans to acquire such platforms which is primarily why we need SPEAR/F35 Combination.

@ Brian Black

Its a good point you make, part of the lack of export success is that the majority of western air forces are a complete f**king joke. They don’t train enough and they lack any capability to operate in anything other than a token contribution to US efforts. The very few that don’t fit this model build their own weapons. Unfortunately since 2010 this is very much the direction we are headed. The difference is that most of these countries only spend 1% of GDP on defence and we spend a fair bit more. Is a little bit of sovereign capability too much to ask for a 34 billion budget? If we can’t have sovereign capability then I would much rather see defence budgets cut in half with a local defence force style approach.

Jeremy M H
June 22, 2015 3:58 am
Reply to  martin

I guess my point is I don’t see the performance difference between SDBII and Spear3 as really making a huge difference for SEAD work. Neither replaces a full up ARM really. I don’t see the mission you can fly with one and not pretty much do with the other.

June 22, 2015 7:10 am
Reply to  Martin


I agree with your logic:

“If our Air Force is unable to conduct SEAD/DEAD against even a limited Air Defence system then seriously is their any point in having it”

If you follow through the argument, you surely end up with the need for few F35 as well; Typhoon or son of Taranis (eventually) is all you need (apart from the FAA).

I would argue that it would be shortsighted not to integrate SPEAR 3 on Typhoon (if its developed). You have an automatic export base for the weapon (Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria [?], Saudi, Oman plus ANO) with limited integration cost to them. That must be an advantage; Integration of SDB II and other US weapons onto Typhoon would probably have an individual cost to each party.

It would be a commercial decision, but MBDA (and others Airbus Defence/BAe) ought to also look at just how much hardware (software elements ?) commonisation is possible between Typhoon and Gripen/Rafale (given Brazil/India/Qatar) and eventually F35.

June 22, 2015 7:21 am

@ Jeremy M H

I don’t doubt the need or desire for a ARM but I think the performance difference of SPEAR vs SDB II could potentially make all the difference when attacking a enemy air defence if combined with the F35’s LO capability. The extra range offered means there are places where the air defence system can track the F35 but the F35 can engage the air defence.

Also the idea of these weapons is to use differential GPS tracking to locate an air defence site rather than trying to ride a beam. Its likley to work however the biggest draw back is speed. If the enemy is firing a mach 2 + missile at you and you are firing a sub sonic cruise missile back at them. In this regard having a ARM version of Meteor would be great as would a multi mode seeker ER version of strom shadow.

June 22, 2015 7:24 am
Reply to  Jeremy M H

, @Jeremy

I have always wondered how easy it is to replace the Radar on Meteor (say) to a passive emissions detector. Given European investment in Meteor (which will have to be integrated onto the F35A eventually – not sure if it can be made to fit into the B though) using this as a base to expand from makes a lot of sense.

(Presumably against radar LO opponents in the 2020s there ought to be a need for a long range IR based missile. Using Meteor as a base for such a weapon would make sense as well).

June 22, 2015 7:53 am
Reply to  Nick

Nick, might not be before Block 5 sw for our B’s being able to take Meteors in internal bays… that is a long time.

Time does not stand still re: export prospects and competition increasing, see second to last para in the linked text.

The Other Chris
June 22, 2015 7:54 am

Any radar is an emissions detector already, common perception is that they only detect their own reflected emissions. If the backend can process what’s being received, they can merrily act as an ESM component. EDIT: Home on Jam etc.

June 22, 2015 8:06 am

@ Nick – Its possible, they looked at it a few years back as a replacement for the US HARM missile but their is no funding for it. The same goes for a ARM version of AMRAAM.

The Other Chris
June 22, 2015 8:11 am

That’s an old article for Meteor, though Trimble has tended to be accurate for the information he has to report on over the years. Shame DEW Line seems to have fallen by the wayside since he stopped running it.

In March this year, the JPO confirmed that Meteor is delivering in Block 4.3 which is looking like a 2023 time frame.

Only right that the UK concentrates on Meteor integration on our Typhoons first though. That’s our Interceptor and Air Supremacy platform.

June 22, 2015 8:15 am


Thanks ! (a Doh moment). I wonder how slow Meteor could fly in practice before the ram-jet had problems. I wonder how much loiter time might be achievable.

June 22, 2015 8:31 am
Reply to  Martin


Thanks. I hadn’t read that before. A few years ago, the decision probably would have looked sensible given the likely opposition’s capability. However, if you’re looking to deal with latest generation Russian integrated mobile air defence network then the decision might change.

June 22, 2015 8:34 am

TOC, agreed.

The clipped-wing version is still w/o funding? So F35s getting Meteors generally speaking and our B’s getting anything for internal carriage might be years apart?
– when was it that the AMRAAMs expire? Oh well, have to buy some more then…

RE “In March this year, the JPO confirmed that Meteor is delivering in Block 4.3 which is looking like a 2023 time frame.
Only right that the UK concentrates on Meteor integration on our Typhoons first though. That’s our Interceptor and Air Supremacy platform.”

Necessary Evil
Necessary Evil
June 22, 2015 9:08 am

According to the calculations in the Australia Air Power article I posted the link for above, SPEAR 3 will allow the f-35 to launch outside the engagement envelope of state-of-the-art air defences, whereas the SDB won’t. These are the kind of small margins that can translate into massively divergent outcomes – almost no planes shot down vs unsustainable losses, for example. I can see a situation unfolding like the one in Gulf War I, where after several losses the Tornados where withdrawn from low-level attacks on Iraqi airfields. An ARM would probably give an even larger margin of safety, but as Martin pointed out, the seeker systems are different, resulting in a SPEAR 3 layout being much more flexible than a ARM one (with more weapons being carried too). More importantly, no ARMs will be integrated onto the F-35 (or the Eurofighter) anytime soon.

As for Storm Shadow, I think this will prove to be very effective against fixed targets, but not against mobile air defense systems – the reason for this is simple, it is just as slow as SPEAR 3 but is likely (because of the non-stealthy launch platform) to be launched at a much greater range, giving the air defenses more time to move away from the point of impact. Brimstone 1/2 is even less relevant to these discussions, as it has less range than the SDB.

The Other Chris
June 22, 2015 9:22 am

ARM’s are becoming a niche weapon. Take a look at the distributed nature of the weapon systems we’re facing and use our own CAMM(L) capabilities for a baseline:

Emitters, receivers, decoys, alternate sensors such as IRST and missile launching assets all separated over several vehicles, trailers and sites in a large area. Receivers constantly listening for emissions, emitters alternating and coordinating activity with increasingly clever LPI modes, all ready to cue a missile, gun or DEW system.

What do you hit to suppress that?

One counter is investment in ISR/ISTAR/ESM assets with latest generation sensors. SAR, Multi- and Hyper-spectral imagers with sophisticated image and signal processors for geolocation, MTI and POL.

Identify where each target asset is, classify it, then launch multiple smaller precision munitions in response to eliminate the entire network rather than just destroying a single emitter to throw a temporary spanner in the IADS works.

At least, that’s the concept of operations :)

June 22, 2015 11:03 am


and if you have whatever the T-50 or the J-20 develops into providing forward defence plus whatever ground based counter-measures may be in use ?

Jeremy M H
June 22, 2015 11:18 am
Reply to  Martin

The US already fields a HARM replacement in AARGM. It will look to upgrade that in the near future by upgrading the propulsion side of AARGM and fitting it for internal F-35 carry.

I agree with those that say such weapons are somewhat niche. But there is still a major role for them if the weapon is strong which I believe AARGM is since it is basically a dual-mode supersonic weapon.

Jeremy M H
June 22, 2015 11:23 am
Reply to  Necessary Evil


I agree with you that if that were the case, the extra range of Spear keeps you out of engagement range but SDBII doesn’t, then it is an easy call. But those making the decisions will have far better information that Airpower Austalia do.

It seems quite possible that with accurate information both may do that job. Or neither. In all probability the answer is quite complex and won’t fit easily into a chart. But those buying the things do generally try to get it right. If spear truly holds that margin it will sell. If the UK doesn’t build it and/or can’t find export partners then it is quite possible it doesn’t make a big of a difference as is being portrayed.

The Other Chris
June 22, 2015 11:33 am

The good news is it’s not an either/or. At least in terms of F-35.

The US are paying to develop and then integrate SDB-II onto F-35.

The UK has paid to develop MBDA SPEAR to the point it has reached so far, and may choose to proceed with integration onto F-35 and Typhoon.

Both systems may be available on the F-35.

That Raytheon are offering industry jobs in the UK is interesting just by itself. I’m sure MBDA would offer the other way too.

June 22, 2015 11:56 am

@ Jeremy mh

Correct me if I am wrong but I think the size of HARM ( length) prohibits it from internal carriage. That’s where the idea for ARM Meteor/AMRAAM came from. I would love it if F35 came with everything all in but as with NGJ and HARM the aircraft comes with a number of gaps in its capability.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
June 22, 2015 12:46 pm

If we are saying the a supposedly stealthy platform cannot enter the engagement zone of an IAD why on earth have we been invest so much time and effort in developing such platforms!? Have we got to the situation where we are so adverse to casualties and due to such small numbers available cannot afford to lose a single platform that we now think in a zero risk mind set?

If this is the case we might as well keep the Typhoon as our manned component, reduce our requirement for the F-35B to the minimum to make the Queen Elizabeth class viable and either invest in VLO UCAVs, ideally also able to operate form the carriers, or a small cheap platform able to be used in swarm tactics, as our day one mission platform.

We appear to be wanting the F-35 to be similar to what some believe the next generation IFV should be, impervious to all threats even of it weighs 70 tonnes in the case of the IFV.

On SEAD, only the US has ever had a fully integrated capability. ALARM was a good weapon system and could have continued if the will had existed with the MoD and Government. It could have been adapted to internal carriage, due its smaller dimensions than its US counterpart, but obviously the capability was not deemed important enough. So why has the SEAD role for a “Stealth” platform made SPEAR 3 so vital? Is this SPEAR 3s primary role or is it as a small stand off weapon system able to be carried in greater numbers that Paveway IV and internally on the F-35B. If the latter is the case then a cheaper weapon that can do a similar job should be very seriously looked at. As was pointed out at the beginning, money spent on SPEAR 3 could be spent elsewhere and maybe more effectively, like bringing the Typhoon up to its full potential, increasing the priority of FRES(UV) or avoiding having the majority of the Navy vessels be fitted for but not with important systems.

Finally and repeating myself, I am all for retaining a broad sovereign manufacturing base, but to do so need a Government willing to put up the extra cash to be able to de so, and to work with industry to ensure our requirements are less specific and that the end product is more appealing to other countries form the outset.

Jeremy M H
June 22, 2015 1:46 pm
Reply to  Martin

Current AARGM, which is the successor to HARM, won’t fit. The USN has sent a request out to basically take the seeker and warhead at the front end (seeker is all new from HARM) and replace the rocket motor with ramjet engines. The range objective is classified but given typical gains one would assume a 50-100% pickup there. But on of the unclassified requirements is that it fit internally in an F-35A/C bay.

Overall it is something I quite like as a program. The initial AARGM fixed the biggest issue with HARM by giving it a MMW seeker that can locate targets after shutdown. Now you can work on the backend of the vehicle and add more range while making it form fit. In the interim the ones you are building now work just fine for F-18’s. Seems a sensible approach.

Jeremy M H
June 22, 2015 1:55 pm

If the UK seriously looks at dropping Spear3 I wonder if the switch to the B is prt of the reason why.

Correct me if I am wrong but the weapons was specified initially when the C was going to be the way to go. Since then you had the switch back and we know that SDBII only just fits. Some trade off has to be made when you lose 10% of the length of the weapon I would think.

It hasn’t flown yet, I wonder if there are still discussions about what to change to get it to fit…

The Other Chris
June 22, 2015 2:04 pm

A few weeks old now but probably the most up to date alternative source summary on the program:


Necessary Evil
Necessary Evil
June 24, 2015 1:34 pm

JeremyMH, I am sure that whoever makes the decision will have more information than me, but whether they use it is another thing – both economic and political concerns will come into it. Re: the new ARM the US are looking to develop, the crucial thing in this regard, apart from the fact that it is not definitely going to happen, is the fact that it is being designed to fit the internal bays of the f-35A/C. So our f-35s will have to carry them on the pylons, or spend lots of money (like with Meteor) to redesign the ARM to fit the f-35s weapon bays. If we go for the cheap option and carry them on the pylons, the f-35s stealthiness will be reduced and therefore the f-35/ARM’s greater margin of safety over the f-35/SPEARS’s will be significantly reduced.

Lord Jim, I think you are right about UAVs potentially being a better solution when it comes to SEAD, but they are still a way away. In the meantime, if we want to have any SEAD capability against advanced air defence systems we need the f-35 and either SPEAR or a new ARM. The stealthiness of the f-35 will be crucial in getting the plane safely into position so it can use these weapons. We can not rely on a Eurofighter with ARM combo because it is quite likely that the Eurofighter won’t be able to get close enough to use the ARM, at least without incurring heavy losses – the range of the proposed new ARMs still won’t come anywhere near that of the s-400, and Russia keeps making advances in radar technology – in light of this, I think a programme for a new ARM that fits into the F-35Bs internal bays would be the ideal solution, but I don’t see that happening somehow.

Necessary Evil
Necessary Evil
June 24, 2015 1:38 pm

Oh, and I’m glad to see that the defence analyst agrees with me, if anyone is headhunting for such a position on here I am available!

June 30, 2015 4:24 am
Jeremy M H
June 30, 2015 12:05 pm
Reply to  martin

Did spear suddenly add 64% more range?

Obviously if it does get that range it makes a much more compelling case and will be a huge success. I think it’s much harder to make the case for the weapon as it stands now.

This article is odd as well. It combines two different points made by people that were not working together really. The DOD is working on reducing the per shot defense cost against PGMs. The other report is a non DOD study and honestly seems a bit disjointed to me. They advocate several different solutions.

I honestly am pretty comfortable with what the U.S. capabilities against an IADS are and are growing into. There is the ability to generate a large salvo of JASSM and TLAM from assets and ranges that are nearly impossible to stop. Certainly generating a strike with 1,500 to 2,000 cruise missiles in a one time effort to overwhelm a national air defense system is within reason.

To compliment this I am more interested in getting AARGM internal to the F-35 and continuing to improve things like MALD than I am putting something in the gap between glide weapons and powered ones right now.

My opinion probably changes if Spear3 really reaches 100nm with a decent warhead that can truly hit some reasonably hard targets. But that would be quite a capability leap from what is out there now.

The Other Chris
July 6, 2015 12:44 pm

Rafael has an SDB-II/SPEAR class weapon also progressing in the works, Spice 250. Always worth looking at what’s out there.

Quadpacked, 250lb weapon most of which is a 100kg warhead, 100km range (glide only), day/night optical sensors, laser and GPS/INS guidance.

Builds on the Spice 1000 and 2000 class stand off glide weapons.

16 on an F-16, 28 on an F-15I.

The claimed range on a glide is promising for a turbojet powered MBDA SPEAR.


Daniel Powell
Daniel Powell
December 31, 2016 9:59 pm

Very interesting to read this articles, which i were hooked to read it often… and researching, compare.

Think British will settle with these armament which are VERY impressive option

Spear CAP 1 – Paveway IV
Spear CAP 2 – Brimstone 2 + Martlet (For helicopter)
Spear CAP 3 – SPEAR 3 + Sea Venom (for helicopter)
Spear CAP 4 – I believe it is will be Pegasus Which design to replace Storm Shadow which British and France is planning to replacement which small and same warhead + 2 loliter bombs inside bay of Pegasus, and bit long range that Storm Shadow.
Spear CAP 5 – only one Spear CAP 5 don’t got information i am spend try look around it i reckon it is for replacement tomahawk long range strike.

Which i like about SPEARS Project is..

Brimstone 2 (SPEAR 2) and SPEAR 3, Pegasus (SPEAR 4), (might SPEAR 5) all these can use Air and Land, Ship to be cost-effective and truly multi-roles weapon.

SPEAR 1 (AKA Paveway IV) i find it is really very good weapon, but we could go for SDB rather Paveway IV useless PAVEWAY IV can use 250lb and 500lb, 1000lb, 2000lb freefall bomb with PAVEWAY IV Kit put on bomb rather SDB. might i am wrong about it. please correction me if i am awrong.

SPEAR 2 (AKA – Brimstone 2 – American are actually want buy it but congress to block american to use it as they alway want use american weapon for american rather use British weapon that reason they push to use Hellfire to copy of Brimstone 2 to save cost to replace all Hellfire and more american job and american weapon rather foreign weapon)

SPEAR 3 use VLS it is will solve Harpoon ASM Problem for ship attack or NLOS SPIKE Replace with LONG Range NLOS Strike to support accuracy in some area like target into cave which Artillery percision guide round can’t get in.

SPEAR 4 is Long range ASM and Land attack which reason SPEAR 5 are Not in urgenty or Hurry to production when Very Long range rare use to operator and we still use tomahawk to hit over 1,000 miles range..

Spear 3 are one best weapon in Spear program so far as it is truly multi-roles weapon.