MBDA sharpens Spear missile design for F-35 integration

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spazsinbad

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Unread post28 Jun 2012, 01:40

PICTURES: MBDA sharpens Spear missile design for F-35 integration 27 June 2012 by Craig Hoyle

http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articl ... on-373453/

"European manufacturer MBDA has unveiled a UK-developed design for a next-generation air-to-surface weapon suitable for internal carriage by the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

To be shown for the first time as a full-scale mock-up at the Farnborough air show, the Spear concept would use a turbojet engine and a wing kit to provide a stand-off range of about 100km (54nm). "Speed and range are the two main drivers" behind this configuration, says Rob Thornley, export working group leader for MBDA UK.

"Another key requirement is to provide multiple load-out on the F-35," says Thornley. The company expects to be able to fit up to four Spear weapons and one Meteor beyond visual-range air-to-air missile in each of the F-35's two weapons bays.

Firm decisions have yet to be made on the final Spear configuration, but MBDA says it will be about 2m (6.5ft) long, carry a multi-effect warhead and use a multimode seeker. The high subsonic-speed weapon will also feature INS/GPS guidance, and be able to receive mid-course updates via an onboard datalink.

The basis of the concept is now in an assessment phase study for the UK Ministry of Defence's Spear Capability 3 requirement. This activity is due to conclude in 2014 with an airframe and propulsion system demonstration using a representative weapon design.

"We are on track, and continue to mature the technologies," says business executive Adrian Monks. However, MBDA acknowledges that the UK's recent decision to revert to the short take-off and vertical landing F-35B "brings some challenges", as the type's weapons bays are shorter than those found on the carrier variant F-35C previously favoured by London...."

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geogen

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Unread post28 Jun 2012, 01:50

If anything else, they'd arguably make good decoys chewing up IADS asset launches -- not quite with the same range as MALD, but still significant -- while the Blue force was operating within 100km of ground based threats.
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Unread post28 Jun 2012, 02:55

Looks like smart positioning to provide an alternative to the SDB-II/AMRAAM combo. 54nm vs 40+nm. Mach 0.5+ vs Mach 0.4.

Cost will be a factor on viability (SDB-II = $200+k unit cost). They need more to keep Rafale/Typhoon marketable.
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Unread post28 Jun 2012, 03:11

More on SPEAR. I wonder if there are plans for an AShM variant to deal with smaller ships threats?

http://defense-update.com/events/2007/s ... ssiles.htm

MBDA is also pursuing another precision attack concept known as Selective Precision Effects At Range (SPEAR), a UK Royal Air Force's (RAF) requirement for the ability to engage mobile relocateable and fixed targets at long stand-off ranges with extreme precision. Initial deployment of network-enabled SPEAR family of missiles is expected around 2015 or later, depending on aircraft platform. SPEAR places much emphasis to enable the air force to maintain operational capability even under restricting, ever changing rules of engagement, associated with asymmetric warfare. SPEAR is expected to operate in day, night and in all weather conditions, carried by aircraft including the Tornado GR4, Typhoon and F-35 Lightning II. Target sets attacked by SPEAR munitions could include semi-hardened buildings such as command posts, mobile air defense units and moving targets, including small 4x4 and light armored vehicles. An important capability required with SPEAR is its ability to discriminate between a moving 'target', designated and confirmed by the user, and 'non targets' - other moving vehicles similar in shape and size. SPEAR will be very flexible in its targeting which can take place from the platform itself or from a third party, such as a wingman or operator on the ground.
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Unread post28 Jun 2012, 03:35

I don't see why not. A ship is just another moving (or not) target. With its multi-mode seeker, it should not be an issue.
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Unread post28 Jun 2012, 12:03

It wouldn't be the most 'time-sensitive' munition for use against relocatable high-value targets, or targets of opportunity at stand-off range, but would definitely be quite an improvement over the current dual-mode Brimstone and eventual Brimstone 2. And by the time UK's first operational STOVL squadron achieves IOC, there'd probably already be a further advanced block 2 SPEAR 3 in the field too?

But what could be interesting to assess too, would be for MBDA to perhaps evaluate whether or not another 7" and 100km+ airframe of theirs in particular -- one which could be a 'time-sensitive' high-value eliminator -- could be adapted and accommodate various migrated seeker components of the SPEAR and Brimstone 2... The METEOR??
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Unread post28 Jun 2012, 14:59

geogen wrote:If anything else, they'd arguably make good decoys chewing up IADS asset launches


You know, that's not a bad idea for a "weapon". Launchable decoys with signatures that match a given aircraft.

Which brings up a question I've had. Why don't more tomahawk missiles get shot down? Is it their low flight profile?
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Unread post28 Jun 2012, 15:12

stereospace wrote:
geogen wrote:If anything else, they'd arguably make good decoys chewing up IADS asset launches


You know, that's not a bad idea for a "weapon". Launchable decoys with signatures that match a given aircraft.

Which brings up a question I've had. Why don't more tomahawk missiles get shot down? Is it their low flight profile?


In part because the B-2's and before that F-117's have already attached the heart of most integrate air defense systems and in part because the US devotes a lot of resources to pinning down the exact makeup of the components of that system.

To really go after cruise missiles well you really need an AWACS that is fully integrated into your defenses in my opinion. Trying to do it otherwise will work for high value targets that you can basically surround with defenses but can't really offer you a wide area defense against a low flying cruise missile.
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Unread post28 Jun 2012, 15:49

What is the indiscretion time of all the Tomahawk missiles ever fired in terms of their exposure to systems capable of downing them?

They've been fired against Iraq and Serbia, to name the two that had any defenses to speak of.

The Iraqis had guns, SA-8 and Roland all crewed incompetently.

I don't know the Serb AD order of battle off the top of my head.

Tomahawk can use evasive routing and terrain masking to lower their exposure to defenses.

The only way to deal with CM's would be a lookdown radar and some kind of quality interceptor missile in a network.
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Unread post16 Jul 2012, 02:01

MBDA Launches Spear During Farnborough 2012 (Source: MBDA; issued July 9, 2012)

http://www.defense-aerospace.com/articl ... -f_35.html

"...SPEAR is the solution being proposed by MBDA to meet the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) requirement for a network centric, low collateral damage, multi-target stand-off strike weapon for multiple loadout in the internal carriage bay of its future fleet of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.

With a range out beyond 100km and, high sub-sonic flight, SPEAR is capable of dealing with an extremely broad target set ranging from fast moving manoeuvring vehicles including main battle tanks (MBTs), hardened structures, air defence units and missile launchers to naval vessels. In fulfilling the UK requirement, SPEAR is unique in providing such a range of capabilities in such a high loadout weapon system.

A very compact missile measuring approximately 2m in length, SPEAR features a multi-mode seeker for operations during either day or night operations regardless of weather conditions, a multi-effects warhead and GPS/INS guidance with a data link so that target updates can be transmitted during the missile’s flight. The missile’s high precision will ensure that it is compliant with increasingly complex and demanding rules of engagement. A turbojet propulsion unit provides the high velocity necessary to strike time sensitive targets before they can inflict damage or take cover. Though not network dependent, SPEAR will be compatible within an NEC (Network Enabled Capability) framework.

Describing SPEAR, Executive Group Director Technical and MBDA UK Managing Director Steve Wadey said: “A weapon like SPEAR is vital for the future multi-role missions of the F-35 because it maximises the network and sensor potential provided by the aircraft and maximises enhanced aircrew survivability in hostile airspace...."

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Unread post16 Jul 2012, 02:29

If they to what Turkey is doing, ie develop weapons with UAI in mind, they will have a huge worldwide customer base as soon as it goes IOC since the F-15/16 fleets will be UAI compatible in the next couple of years.
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Unread post16 Jul 2012, 09:15

How does the SPEAR compare to the JSM?
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Unread post16 Jul 2012, 19:50

jacarlsen wrote:How does the SPEAR compare to the JSM?


It is a smaller weapon. It looks to me like an upsized SDB with an engine. JSM is more like a Harpoon class weapon. JASSM is a heavy, deep strike weapon.

My feelings on SPEAR are that I would generally be loath to trade say 8 SDB's for 4 SPEAR's, but that is just me.
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Unread post16 Jul 2012, 20:24

You missed the measurements. Each SPEAR is the SAME size as an SDB and a BRU-61 can carry 4.
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Unread post16 Jul 2012, 20:51

SpudmanWP wrote:You missed the measurements. Each SPEAR is the SAME size as an SDB and a BRU-61 can carry 4.


You are right, I did. I will be curious if this can come in on budget and on spec. If they really can make it fit where a SDB goes then it is undoubtedly the better weapon, so long as the cost is roughly similar.
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