European munitions company MBDA has been awarded a contract to demonstrate a new electronic warfare variant of its SPEAR air-launched ground attack missile.
That would give RAF Typhoons and F-35B Lightnings – and maybe eventually RAAF F-35A fighters – a capability to organically jam enemy electronic systems in suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD) missions.
UK Defence Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said these state-of-the-art electronic jammers would confuse adversaries and keep pilots safer than ever.
“Paired with the devastating power of precision Brimstone and Meteor missiles, our world-class F-35 and Typhoon jets will continue to rule the skies in the years to come,” she said at the DSEi exposition in London.
SPEAR roughly compares in size to the Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) now entering RAAF service. But being powered by a small turbojet, it has greater range of more than 130-kilometres and features a sophisticated multi-mode seeker.
SPEAR-EW is being developed by MBDA in partnership with Leonardo to complete a wide range of SEAD missions under a Technical Demonstration Program contract. It will integrate a miniaturised EW payload from Leonardo which will act as a stand-in jammer.
Leonardo’s Digital Radio Frequency Memory (DRFM) technology offers the most advanced and future-proof electronic jamming and deception now available.
MBDA UK Director of Sales and Business Development Mike Mew described SPEAR-EW as a revolutionary new capability, which with existing SPEAR weapons, marked a fundamental change in the ability of friendly air forces to conduct their missions in presence of enemy air defences.
“Our vision for SPEAR is to create a swarm of networked weapons able to saturate and neutralise the most sophisticated air defences,” he said in a statement. “Adding SPEAR-EW to the family alongside our existing SPEAR strike missile demonstrates the principle of introducing complementary variants to the
SPEAR’s compact size allows four weapons to be carried in each of the two internal weapons bay of the F-35, or three per station on the Eurofighter Typhoon.