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Air-Launched Weapons

Update: BAE begins Meteor and SPEAR integration for F-35

20 March 2019
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BAE Systems has begun integrating the next tranche of UK-specific weapons onto the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning combat aircraft.

A concept of a Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning launching the MBDA Meteor BVRAAM missile. (BAE Systems)A concept of a Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning launching the MBDA Meteor BVRAAM missile. (BAE Systems)

The company announced on 18 March that it had been sub-contracted by Lockheed Martin to begin integrating the MBDA Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) and the Selected Precision Effects At Range (SPEAR) 3 air-to-surface missile aboard the aircraft. Integration is expected to continue up to 2025.

As noted by BAE Systems, the Meteor and SPEAR 3 work is part of a wider package that includes further integration of the MBDA AIM-132 Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) and the Raytheon Paveway IV laser-guided bomb (LGB) in support of delivering initial operating capability (IOC) for the UK. While all of this work is being done specifically for the UK customer, Cliff Waldwyn, head of Combat Air, Group Business Development of MBDA, said that it also added additional capability choice for international customers.

Speaking at a press conference on 20 March, MBDA UK managing director Chris Allam told Jane’s that the move supports the UK’s prosperity agenda and enables the company to work in the international domain.

“Some of the European countries are extremely interested in the kind of capability you can get from Meteor, so having it integrated is a fantastic thing to do and it lets you step into that market. We will then pursue campaigns where we see the customer wants a Meteor-style capability with [the] F-35, having the backing of the UK, and the backing of the US through Lockheed Martin [with] BAE Systems standing behind us. There will be many weapons integrated onto [the] F-35, and being the first of that beyond US weapons is a great place to be.”

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