GEAR & TECH

The new SPEAR missile will strike any target on land or at sea

(MBDA)

Throughout the course of human evolution, the spear, as a weapon, has provided extra reach against powerful opponents. Back then, the fierce opposition typically had four legs. Today, the spear is antiquated technology. It's a still a great tool in a pinch, but since the introduction of firearms, better war-fighting tools have taken its place.

But there is a "spear" today that could prove extremely effective in modern warfare.


To be fair, the spear we're talking about is much more than a sharpened stick. In this case, we're talking about the SPEAR 3 missile ("SPEAR" actually stands for Selective Precision Effects At Range).

This mock-up of the MBDA SPEAR, on display at SeaAirSpace 2018, shows the wings that help give this missile an 80-mile range.

(Photo by Harold Hutchison)

The SPEAR 3 is an upgrade to the SPEAR 2, which was also known as the Brimstone 2, and comes with three big changes. First, the SPEAR 3 weighs just over twice as much as its predecessor (roughly 220 pounds). The SPEAR 3 uses a turbojet engine as opposed to the rocket motor of the Brimstone. And, finally, a wing kit has been added to the missile, which, according to a handout, gives the SPEAR a "beyond-horizon reach."

So, how far can this precision weapon go? By some estimates, as far as 80 miles. The missile is pretty small and is intended to be used to engage tanks, naval vessels, and just about any target in between. The SPEAR 3 uses a combination of inertial navigation and GPS guidance as well as a multi-mode seeker and a two-way datalink to accurately find its target.

This rack holds four SPEAR missiles, and can fit with an AIM-120 AMRAAM or a MBDA Meteor air-to-air missile inside a F-35's weapons bay. Let's see a S-400 battery survive that!

(Graphic by MBDA)

Unlike the old SPEAR, which would only fly solo, an F-35 can carry four SPEAR 3s in a weapons bay alongside air-to-air missiles, like the AIM-120 AMRAAM or the MBDA Meteor.

Although the spear has come a long way since its pointy origins, this newest iteration gives opposing forces plenty to fear.