A UK Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft has successfully fired a SPEAR air-to-surface precision strike weapon for the first time in a flight trial conducted from BAE Systems’ site in Warton, Lancashire.
The SPEAR missile is being developed to meet the UK’s Selective Precision Effects At Range Capability 3 (SPEAR Cap 3) requirement for the UK’s F-35 Lightning II aircraft, with the potential to equip Typhoon. SPEAR will precisely engage long range, mobile, fleeting and re-locatable targets in all weathers, day or night, in the presence of countermeasures, obscurants and camouflage, whilst ensuring a safe stand-off range between the aircrew and threat air defences, the company said in a statement Tuesday.
Following the launch, which took place at the UK Ministry of Defence’s Aberporth range, in Wales, the weapon transitioned to powered flight and completed a series of manoeuvres before reaching its pre-planned point of impact.
The Typhoon aircraft, which is subject to a continual programme of capability upgrades, has been designated as the test aircraft for trials and development of the weapon.
Paul Stone, Typhoon Product Development and Future Capability Manager for BAE Systems, said: “The success of this trial demonstrates the inherent flexibility of the Typhoon aircraft as a platform in supporting such a crucial phase of testing on this next generation missile - and further cements the strong relationship between BAE Systems, MBDA and the UK customer.
“The weapon operated exactly as expected during the trial and we are delighted to have supported such important step in further development of SPEAR using Typhoon.”
The MBDA SPEAR networked precision strike weapon was launched from Eurofighter Typhoon Production Aircraft BS116 earlier this year. The test flight was led by teams from MBDA and BAE Systems, with BAE Systems Chief Test Pilot Steve Formoso at the controls.
The test firing from the Typhoon was the culmination of trials work undertaken by MBDA to prove the weapon is ready to move to the next stage of development work, which will now continue through to 2020. SPEAR is one of a number of smart weapons which may be integrated on to the Typhoon aircraft to meet future operational requirements, including anti-ship missiles such as Marte-ER.