LINKÖPING, Sweden — European missile builder MBDA has secured a £411 million (US $600.5 million) deal with the British Ministry of Defence to develop a medium range strike weapon to arm its upcoming fleet of F-35 joint strike fighters.
The company has been working on a program known as SPEAR 3 (selected precision effect at range) for several years as part of a £150 million assessment phase.
A development version of the weapon was dropped from a Eurofighter test jet in March.
MBDA secured the development deal after it deflected an attempt by Raytheon to get its cheaper, but shorter-range Small Diameter Bomb II considered for the requirement.
The MoD said the range of SPEAR 3 is in excess of 60 miles.
The new four-year deal will lead to the turbojet powered weapon being ready for service by the mid-2020s if the work is successful, said the MoD in a statement.
Defense procurement minister Philip Dunne said the contract will give "UK pilots a state-of-the-art British-designed weapon to be used onboard our F-35B jets with precision and punch that we need to give decisive operational advantage over our adversaries."