Air-Launched Weapons

TDW advances SPEAR warhead solution

23 May 2017

TDW, a wholly owned subsidiary of MBDA Germany, is evolving the design and development of a new unique warhead for the SPEAR stand-off air-to-surface weapon.

SPEAR is the MBDA UK solution for the UK Ministry of Defence's (MoD's) Selective Precision Effects At Range Capability 3 (SPEAR Cap 3) requirement. Following the award of an earlier GBP150 million (USD195 million) Assessment Phase Contract, the company in March 2016 was selected to deliver the SPEAR Cap 3 capability under a GPB411 million four-year enabling contract. This provides for critical design and development activity to tailor the weapon for integration with the internal weapons bay on the United Kingdom's future F-35B Lightning II fleet, under the aircraft's follow-on modernisation programme.

Development of the new SPEAR multi-effects warhead will be finalised in the 2022 timeframe. (TDW)Development of the new SPEAR multi-effects warhead will be finalised in the 2022 timeframe. (TDW)

In December 2016, following a four-year Assessment Phase, which was preceded by an earlier one-year competitive Assessment Phase against other European warhead providers, MBDA UK awarded TDW the contract to develop the new SPEAR warhead system. In both Assessment Phases, design and development of the concept warhead was part-funded by TDW, Klaus Wölki, Sales Director at TDW told Jane's .

As currently configured, the SPEAR weapon weighs less than 100 kg and is less than two metres in length. Intended as a day/night all-weather capability, the missile features a new multimode seeker, integrated inertial and anti-jam GPS navigation, a two-way datalink, and turbojet propulsion delivering a given range of more than 100 km. The missile can be used in both fire-and-forget and semi-active laser designation modes, with the datalink supporting network-enabled engagements. The design also provides for a new multi-effects warhead with multiple options, delivering enhanced lethality, but low collateral risk.

Wölki describes TDW's SPEAR warhead solution as "a unique combination of three basic warhead effects: blast fragmentation, penetration and shaped charge in a single warhead system, designed to defeat a broad spectrum of targets, including personnel in open ground, equipment and light vehicles; medium armoured vehicles, main battle tanks (MBTs) with explosive reactive armour (ERA), and targets inside buildings."

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