MBDA and Leonardo secure £10M deal for Spear-EW Jamming Missile

At DSEI 2023, MBDA and Leonardo were awarded a contract by the UK Ministry of Defence to develop the Spear-EW, an electronic-attack variant of MBDA's Select Precision Effects At Range Capability Three (Spear-3) air-to-surface missile. This £10 million ($12 million) project aims to enhance the electronic warfare capabilities of the UK's armed forces.

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Spear EW 925   MBDA and Leonardo secure £10M for the Spear-EW jamming missile (Picture source: Army Recognition)

Leonardo will integrate its electronic warfare (EW) equipment into the Spear missile, which is intended for integration into the UK's Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II fighter and Royal Air Force (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoons.

Norman Bone, Managing Director of Leonardo UK, highlighted the company's role in providing EW payloads for the Spear-EW, which will function as a stand-in jammer to protect RAF aircraft and disrupt enemy air defenses. MBDA describes the Spear-EW as a long-range, high subsonic speed system with capabilities including false target decoying and obscuration jamming, and it has a release weight of less than 100kg (225lb). Mike Mew, Director of Sales and Business Development at MBDA UK, envisions creating a network of weapons with Spear to address advanced air defenses. A baseline version of Spear has already undergone fit-checks on a Typhoon using a three-store launcher.

During a speech at the DSEI on September 11th, RAF Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, acknowledged the Spear-EW as an example of collective efforts to develop capabilities and minimize costs while aiming to maximize operational benefits.

The Spear-3, with a range of approximately 85 miles, engages smaller targets using radar, infrared, and laser homing. The Spear-EW serves as a jammer and decoy missile, designed to disrupt and deceive enemy air defense systems. It has a shorter range than the standard Spear-3 missile. The Spear-EW executes electronic attacks on threat emitters, assists in destroying air defenses, and collaborates with the Spear-3 missiles in the cooperative destruction of enemy air defenses (DEAD) role.

The Spear-EW can spoof or jam enemy threat emitters while the Spear-3 missiles eliminate components of SAM (Surface-to-Air Missile) sites. Powered by a Pratt & Whitney TJ-130 turbojet engine, the Spear-EW can loiter over an area for extended periods, disrupting nearby air defenses. It can potentially be used kinetically for hit-to-kill missions, targeting radar emissions sources without an explosive warhead. The Spear-EW may also retain the warhead of the standard Spear-3 missile, making it suitable for suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) missions.