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DSEI 2021: BAE Systems and MBDA Enhance F-35 Capabilities

Funding Secured to Complete METEOR and SPEAR Integration

BAE Systems and MBDA have secured additional funding to complete development and integration of next-generation weapons capabilities on British and Italian F-35s, the companies announced on 17 September.

The award builds on the successful integration conducted since 2019 by BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and MBDA to upgrade the British F-35 weapon systems. It will see industry teams complete integration activities for the SPEAR precision surface attack weapon onto the UK’s aircraft, with the next-generation missile enhancing future combat air capability through its network-enabled, high load-out, multi-effect capabilities with extended stand-off range. This will further enhance the British LIGHTNING Force’s capability to defeat challenging targets, such as mobile long-range air defence systems, at over-the-horizon ranges in all weathers and in highly contested environments.

The funding will also see the remainder of the integration of MBDA’s METEOR beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missile completed on both the F-35A and F-35B jets for the UK and Italy. The weapon’s networking and range capability is ideally suited to the F-35’s sensor suite, to provide unrivalled capabilities in the battlespace.

A team of engineers from BAE Systems, MBDA and Lockheed Martin will now commence testing, simulation and integration activities in the UK and US, to achieve initial operating capability (IOC) for both weapons.

Advanced weapons systems, such as METEOR and SPEAR, will provide the UK and Italian armed forces with an operational advantage. Our highly skilled engineers have a crucial role across the entire F-35 programme, and as part of this integration activity,” commented Tom Fillingham, SVP US Programmes for BAE Systems’ Air Sector.

Paul Mead, Group Business Development Director at MBDA, stated that the integration of METEOR and SPEAR “[…] is also a positive step for the wider F-35 enterprise, as it adds additional capability choice for all international customers across multiple variants of the aircraft. MBDA’s integration team has worked well with our BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin colleagues to date, and we plan to build on this excellent foundation into the future on this key follow-on modernisation work.”

Over 80 employees across the UK will deliver the weapons integration work for the UK and Italian F-35 fleets, with the F-35 programme sustaining more than 20,000 jobs in the UK overall across the development, production, integration and sustainment of the global programme.

Funding has been secured to complete integration work enabling the F-35 to deploy both METEOR and SPEAR weapon systems. (Photo via MBDA)

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