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£411m invested in F-35s new anti-ship/tank/building mini-cruise missile
18 May 2016

Whitehall is pumping more than £400m into a mini cruise missile to be launched from the Navy’s new strike fighter.

Spear 3 is able to take out enemy ships, armour and buildings more than 60 miles from the F-35 Lightning II which will launch it.

Pictures: MBDA

TOP bombing. Well, top missiling actually.

This is Spear 3, leaving the payload bay of the Navy’s next-generation strike fighter.

Its target: enemy tanks, armour, flak and missile batteries, buildings and infrastructure, warships.

Whitehall is pumping £411m into what is a effectively a mini-cruise missile – capable of knocking out its foe at ranges of more than 60 miles.

Spear – Selective Precision Effects At Range – is drawn from the same family as the RAF’s battle-proven Brimstone – will enter service with 809 Naval Air Squadron and the RAF’s 617 Dambusters in the mid-2020s; it’s being designed specifically for the RN/RAF’s new strike fighter.

The two-metre-long weapon will weigh around 100kg and be powered through the sky by a turbojet – a small jet engine – rather than a traditional rocket. Given its range, the theory is that the F-35 can launch Spear well out of range of the enemy’s air defences.

£150m has already been spent on the project, culminating in a successful test-firing from a Typhoon jet a range in Wales in March.

That success has prompted the MOD to invest £411m in the next stage of development with defence firm MBDA, securing 350 jobs over the next four years at sites in Bristol, Stevenage and Lostock, near Bolton.