EGSU - Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II - Royal Air Force - ZM147
Image Source: Steve Lynes
The Ministry of Defence has announced that a £550m contract to develop new surface-attack missiles for the F-35B Lightning jets has been signed today (January 6).
Jane Imrie

£550m missile defence contract to create hundreds of UK jobs

A defence contract worth hundreds of millions of pounds is set to create more than 700 jobs across the UK.

The Ministry of Defence has announced that a £550m contract to develop new surface-attack missiles for the F-35B Lightning jets has been signed today (January 6).

Known as SPEAR3, the 1.8m missile system has a range of more than 140km and, powered by a turbojet engine, can operate across land and sea. Over the next decade it is expected to become the F-35’s primary air-to-ground weapon.

Following the development phase, the new seven-year demonstration and manufacture contract with MBDA will support more than 700 UK jobs, including the creation of 190 skilled technology jobs in system design, guidance control and navigation and software engineering.

At the peak of the contract, 570 people will work on various aspects of the system’s development in Bristol, Stevenage and Bolton, with another 200 jobs expected to be sustained along the supply chain that includes L3/Harris, Roband, Collins, EPS and MSB.

Defence Minister, Jeremy Quin, commented: “The development of this next-generation missile will allow us to protect our personnel and assets on the ground, from thousands of metres in the sky above.”

“Our commitment to this system will secure hundreds of highly skilled jobs across the UK and showcase British technology and weapon expertise on the world stage.”

Colonel Martin French, DE&S’ Lightweight and Medium Attack Systems (LMAS) team leader, added: “The placement of this contract marks the next major stage of the SPEAR3 weapon system’s development and is a result of months of detailed negotiations between MBDA and the LMAS project team.

“Building on the successes and technology achievements of the previous four years’ work with MBDA, we now enter the exciting and challenging demonstration phase where we start to prove the system against the UK’s requirements and ramp up activities to integrate this highly-capable weapon system onto the F-35B aircraft.”

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