The Fu­ture: SPEAR with the Gripen E

Vayu Aerospace and Defence - - Aviation Defence & In India -

MBDA’s SPEAR is an ex­tended range de­riv­a­tive of the DMB un­der con­tract for de­vel­op­ment. It is the only mis­sile that meets UK MoD’s Se­lec­tive Pre­ci­sion Ef­fects At Range ( SPEAR) Ca­pa­bil­ity 3 re­quire­ments, and be­cause it is de­vel­oped and made ex­clu­sively in the UK, is a prod­uct that will have “com­plete free­dom of ac­tion and de­liv­ery” in terms of em­ploy­ment and ex­ports.

SPEAR is de­signed from the out­set for the UK’s F-35, which means it is op­ti­mised for in­ter­nal car­riage. Each mis­sile weighs 100kg and boasts an in­cred­i­ble range of over 100km. A triple rack with three mis­siles would weigh just un­der 400 kg, and would en­able pre­ci­sion strike on mul­ti­ple fixed, mo­bile, and re-lo­cat­able tar­gets, with low col­lat­eral dam­age, at very long ranges. The mis­sile is net­work en­abled, but MBDA notes it is “not net de­pen­dent,” fea­tur­ing a num­ber of ad­di­tions to the base Dual Mode Brim­stone, in­clud­ing a new mul­ti­mode seeker that in­cor­po­rates radar imag­ing, GPS, a multi-ef­fect war­head, Link-16-based datalink, a wing kit and a Pratt& Whit­ney TJ- 150- 3 tur­bo­jet en­gine. The mis­sile’s rel­a­tively small size re­sults in greater “mag­a­zine ca­pac­ity” for the car­ry­ing air­craft, with the F-35 able to carry eight in­ter­nally, while the Ty­phoon (the pri­mary 4th-gen­er­a­tion plat­form for the mis­sile) will re­ceive the same tripler­ack as the Brim­stone cur­rently in­te­grate un­der the type’s Phase 3 En­hance­ment (P3E). SPEAR will be pro­gram­mable in- flight, al­low­ing for ex­cep­tional flex­i­bil­ity re­gard­ing fuz­ing op­tions for a wide va­ri­ety of tar­gets.

SPEAR’s UK assess­ment phase is com­plete with the Eurofighter Ty­phoon plat­form, and in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment of the weapon sys­tem is planned to be com­plete by 2020, with ser­vice en­try in the fol­low­ing years, af­ter user test­ing.

Since the Brim­stone and SPEAR can be in­te­grated with nearly any com­bat plat­form with the 1553B or 1760 data bus, MBDA had an in­ter­est­ing pro­posal ready re­gard­ing the IAF’s fu­ture fighter plans, should the Saab Gripen E be se­lected as the new ‘sin­gle en­gine fighter.’ Com­pany of­fi­cials showed off an ‘ all- MBDA’ mul­ti­role load­out for the Gripen E, with two ASRAAMs on the wingtips, three Me­teor BVRAAMs un­der­belly, and twelve SPEAR mis­siles (four racks of three). The air-to-sur­face weapons could also in­clude a mix of six Brim­stone and six SPEAR, or a max­i­mum of six DMB, car­ried on the outer wing sta­tions. The lat­ter con­fig­u­ra­tion is a lim­i­ta­tion ow­ing to the fact that Brim­stone has a rocket mo­tor that ig­nites ‘on the rail,’ which could lead to the mis­sile’s ex­haust gases be­ing in­gested by the fighter’s en­gine. Since SPEAR is jet­ti­soned, not fired off the py­lon, there are no such is­sues with a 12-mis­sile SPEAR load. MBDA also noted the Taurus long-range cruise mis­sile, which is a Saab-MBDA prod­uct, is in­te­grated with the Gripen, with the Gripen E able to carry two.

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