To ask the Secretary of State for Defence
(1) what discussion has taken place with the US to ensure that the development of the SPEAR weapon for the US version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is compatible with the UK version; and if he will make a statement;
(2) what assessment has been made of the compatibility of the SPEAR weapon with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; and if he will make a statement.
SPEAR (Selective Precision Effects At Range) is a term used to describe the capability to attack surface targets at intermediate range from legacy and planned UK strike aircraft. Studies into how best to meet this requirement are still on-going, and no decisions have yet been taken. The SPEAR capability could be provided by improvements to legacy or near-term weapons and/or by a new system or systems.
Whatever capability solution is chosen would need to take into account the capabilities offered by the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), which as been selected as having the best potential to meet the UK's Future Joint Combat Aircraft requirement.
Our participation in the JSF programme ensures our close involvement with regard to potential weapons systems for the aircraft.