Britain’s Ministry of Defense has struck a deal to replace the aging Harpoon anti-ship missiles on 11 of its warships with the smaller but more advanced Naval Strike Missile (NSM).
The NSM is a subsonic cruise missile with a range of over 100 nautical miles and a 275-pound explosive warhead. It is built by Kongsberg and used by the Royal Norwegian Navy, the Polish Army (in a coastal defense role), the US Navy’s Littoral and Constellation-class frigate programs, and the NMESIS unmanned mobile launch of the US Marine Corps. a truck. He has several future orders from a wide variety of international operators. NSM is able to identify and distinguish targets on its own using an infrared camera and an onboard database of target descriptions.
The Harpoon is a Cold War-era subsonic cruise missile with a larger 500-pound warhead and a shorter range of 75 nm. It is a ubiquitous device used by US allied operators around the world, from Canada to Australia to Ukraine, where it is used to divert Russian Navy assets from Odessa. On June 17, a harpoon was reportedly used to sink the Russian tug Spasatel Vasily Bekhwhich carried a Tor air defense system and was en route to reinforce Russian positions on occupied Snake Island.
In a sign of its continued usefulness in some applications, a submarine version of Harpoon that was retired from United States Navy service in the 1990s is being refurbished and reintroduced into the Los Angeles-class attack subfleet.
However, Harpoon is showing his age. Over the coming year, eleven Royal Navy Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers will be equipped with the lighter HSM. The MOD has ordered the missile system as an interim replacement for its harpoons, which will reach the end of their service life next year.
UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace announced the investment in the new weapon during a visit to the Royal Navy’s flagship HMS queen elizabeth in the Norwegian capital of Oslo, not far from the Kongsberg headquarters.
The Royal Navy believes that despite the upgrades and improvements made to the Harpoon, it cannot meet the demands of modern naval warfare. NSM will temporarily replace while the UK works to acquire a “future offensive surface weapon” – a heavy anti-ship/land-attack missile scheduled for delivery in 2028.
Babcock and BAE hold the installation contract for NSM, and the first vessel should be ready and modernized by the end of next year.
Once replaced, British harpoons could well find their way into Ukraine’s inventory, joining compatible missiles and shore battery launchers from Denmark, the Netherlands and the United States.