Aug 3, 2014
Royal Navy could remove Harpoon from warships
Withdrawal of Harpoon would leave RN warships without a heavyweight surface-to-surface guided weapon (SSGW), opening up a gap in long-range anti-surface warfare capability.
Harpoon missile is fitted to the 13 Type 23 frigates. Four Type 45 destroyers are also to be equipped with Harpoon, using redundant equipment transferred from decommissioned Type 22 Batch 3 frigates. The US Naval Air Systems Command issued a notification in June this year of its intention to contract Boeing for a Harpoon Shipboard Command Launch System trans-installation on a Type 45 under a Foreign Military Sales case; according to the MoD, the first Type 45 ship fit will be completed later in 2014, with the remaining three to follow in 2015.
However, a recent contract notice for GWS60/Harpoon in-service support and post-design services has revealed that the system may only remain in service for a further four years. Published by the MoD's Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) on 8 July, the notice confirmed 2018 as the current planned Out of Service Date (OSD) for Harpoon. DE&S further noted that options are being investigated to extend the OSD out to 2020 or 2023, but cautioned that "this is not guaranteed".
The UK currently has no approved programme for a Harpoon replacement. Early studies are being pursued with France for a putative Future Cruise Anti-Ship Weapon, but such a weapon is not intended to enter service until circa 2030.