The US Navy has selected the Naval Strike Missile, offered by Raytheon Company and Kongsberg Gruppen, for over-the-horizon defence of littoral combat ships and future frigates.

Raytheon will manufacture and deliver the over-the-horizon weapon systems under a $14.8 million contract for offensive missiles loaded into launching mechanisms, and a single fire-control suite. The contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value to $847.6 million.

NSM is a long-range, precision missile that strikes heavily defended land and sea targets. The missile, which can reach enemy defences up to 100 nautical miles away, uses advanced seeker and target-identification technology say the manufacturers.

“Raytheon and Kongsberg are providing the Navy with a proven, off-the-shelf solution that exceeds requirements for the over-the-horizon mission,” said Dr. Taylor W. Lawrence, president of Raytheon Missile Systems.

“Because it is operational now, NSM saves the United States billions of dollars in development costs and creates new high-tech jobs in this country.”

Raytheon will manufacture NSM launchers, missiles and components in the U.S. The company has begun launcher production at its factory in Louisville, Kentucky, and will perform missile final assembly and testing at its Tucson, Arizona, facility. The contract will generate business for more than two dozen U.S. suppliers. The missile program is the latest product of a longtime partnership with Kongsberg, Norway’s main defence firm.

“Raytheon and Kongsberg are celebrating 50 years of cooperation, and the selection of the NSM marks another successful step for our close relationship,” said Eirik Lie, president of Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace AS.

“We are able to provide the U.S. Navy with the best of two worlds by combining the capability of NSM with Raytheon’s proficiency as the world’s largest missile maker.”

33 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting choice, when will these be in operation I wonder and (depending on that) what if any relevance might this have this side of the pond for our over the horizon needs.

    • The NSM has been in service with the Norwegians since 2012 and Poland since 2013, In 2015 it was picked by Malaysia and last feb by Germany . I had to laugh at the headline:
      A Norwegian missile for the US Navy
      As the NSM is the successor to the Penguin Anti ship missile which as the AGM-119 has been in US service since 1994.

      As for the MOD picking the NSW for the RN, they’ll have meetings after meetings including jollies all over the world in which to arrive at the conclusion, nah we don’t need it as it doesn’t fit our needs.

    • Problem with NSM is the missile doesn’t fit inside the MK41 VLS and requires a launch canister not unlike Harpoon. It would be a reasonable solution for Type 45 but in respect of Type 26 I would prefer something that can be dropped into the MK41 VLS if there is a sudden need for this kind of weapon system.

      The derivative of NSM the JSM designed to fit in the F35 weapons bay is earmarked for MK41 integration and would be an alternative for LRASM.

  2. The MoD needs to have a long and hard think about seriously considering buying this missile. I think it would be a better fit for the RN (as opposed to the untried, expensive LRASM) since it is cheaper, can be canister launched making it perfect for Type 31 and I believe can also be VLS launched making it ideal for Type 26 as well.

  3. Well done Kongsberg.

    Is this article accurate though with no typos? If yes it”s an interesting contract with a very small initial investment and a massive negotiated follow on…

    “a $14.8 million contract for offensive missiles loaded into launching mechanisms, and a single fire-control suite. The contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value to $847.6 million.”

    So an initial purchase worth $14.8m and follow-on options for an additional $832.8m? That sounds like a very strange contract to me. If it’s accurate is the decision really fully made or is the US dipping its toe into the water and firming up price were it to really go to widespread deployment?

    • Translation in DOD terms is 14.8 million paid immediately. With follow on payments made both on ability to meet production targets and program goals. Failure to do so resulting in the termination and forfeiture of remaining amounts.
      You will notice similar language in the contracts BAE gets from the USN. For modernization a small amount to start work followed by subsequent payment after inspection to start upgrades.

      • Thanks Elliott. That makes sense. I was just a bit surprised by the extent of what a small “head” vs the massive “tail” the contract has.

  4. An interesting but strange choice. Yes, NSM is a proven design. But it is not networked like LRASM and the latter appears to have also been selected by the Navy. Not being networked and still subsonic with no additional range over Harpoon, it is difficult to understand what new war fighting benefits it offers, except perhaps slightly better target discrimination and some degree of stealth. It is a missile that, like its predecessor, has been designed primarily for use in confined (a term used relatively here) and littoral waters, able to fly lots of doglegs and going round headlands and the like. I suppose that’s why it’s been bought for the LCS and LRASM for the bigger combat ships? The LCS programme has come under a lot of criticism and there is a move to enhance their offensive capability. But one cannot help get the feeling that the USN’s focus has moved away from the LCS and that might explain the rather hesitant nature of the contract. As for the RN, I cannot see NSM as a solution to replace Harpoon. I don’t see it as providing sufficient of a leap forward and I don’t believe we have a sufficiently pressing and specific littoral combat requirement that on its own justifies the procurement of a new missile system. I still see the T26 as being the only ships in the RN in future to be equipped with an ASuW capability (at least I hope so!) and hopefully that will take the form of LRASM launched vertically from Mk-41 VLS after adoption by the USN. I don’t think the T31, if built, will receive an ASuW capability, at least not initially, and I don’t see the T45 receiving a new missile once Harpoon is finally retired. But we shall see…

    • It isn’t a strange choice…. it was the only choice.

      There was no other competitor in this competition with Lockheed and Boeing having both left the competition with their LRASM & Harpoon missiles

      • Because they thought they couldn’t win because the requirement didn’t call for a networked capability, or so I’ve been informed. But I admit I do not know the exact details.

  5. Good day all.

    The NSM is currently being bought only for the LCS OTH capability after testing on the USS Coronado. S.R. I believe it has about twice the range of the current Harpoon excluding an ER version which I believe is being developed / considered.

    There must be a specific reason the USN only really considered this missile over the LRASM and the Tomahawk. Cost is probably a big one, and as referenced above, it’s suitability for operations in littoral waters.

    I would also note that it’s essentially a “plug and play” encapsulated system (which is a requirement in the contract I believe) which makes for easy mounting on the LCS outside of its designed mission modules which the USN has already stated will now be permanently installed and each LCS will assigned a single mission – eg surface warfare, mine hunting, etc.

    Whether we like it or not (I’m not a fan) we are going to have 32 of these ships and they can be useful if properly (heavily) armed and assigned to missions commensurate with their design.

    https://m.warhistoryonline.com/military-vehicle-news/uss-odgensinkex.html

    Cheers!

    • Thanks Helions! I hadn’t realised NSM outranked the latest version of Harpoon. I still find it a slightly strange choice. I guess supporting Norwegian industry in exchange for Norway’s F-35, C-130J and P-8 buy might have played a part as well. Norwegians always demand offsets in defence procurement. Also the fact that the missile is primarily designed for use in the littoral and we are talking LCS.

    • Thats straight line range. Once you start doglegging missile flight profiles and try to get missiles to do simultaneous time on target from different bearings the straight line range to the target drops significantly very very quickly. That’s the same for NSM or Harpoon.

      • Excellent point G.B.

        With ~100 NM total range on the NSM, will that translate to a combat effective range in the neighborhood of 70-75 NM?

        Cheers!

  6. This missile has been commented on lots of times on this website.
    I am sure Perseus which is our RN/RAF intended harpoon replacement will be a capable system. Only after we have spent billions of taxpayers money developing it with the French.
    What the RN needs now is an interim solution. We cannot wait until 2030s until we get a suitable weapon to replace harpoon.
    The RN needs to order NSM for the type 31s and type 45s now and the LRASM for the mk41 vl systems on the type 26s. Hopefully the type 31s will have a small mk41 vl system but in case they do not then the NSM is the best available choice out there.
    There is no reason why a cannister mounted NSM could not also be fitted onto river class vessels as well as other small warship classes down to 1000 ton displacement.
    Selecting this system is a no brainer. No huge development costs. It is ready to go now and unit price per missile is well below £1 million each. £672K if the UK gets the missiles at same price as USN is paying. If enough were carried they could provide a cheap saturation strike ability against enemy surface warship groups.

    • There is a reason why you wouldn’t mount an anti ship missile on a River class, what would the point be?

      The River Class are not intended or built for major combat operations, they are adequately armed for their day to day tasking. They wouldn’t be able to keep up with a Task Group anyway and might well be more a hindrance than a help to any Naval Planner.

  7. (Chris H) So what benefit does Norway get out of this deal given Raytheon will build it in its entirety in the USA? As all US munitions are. Apart from some distant bragging rights?

    Once again US manufacturers benefit from someone else’s development work. The lesson for the UK is right there: Never buy anything for our military unless its built here even if its a foreign design.

    Will we NEVER learn?

    • Depends where the key components for the missile are made. Not all will be made in Norway, even for European use. The turbine for starters I believe is a Microturbo which is made in France. There will be many other components internationally sourced. Set up costs to manufacture many of these under license are usually prohibitive. So I suspect even in the US case, many of these components, perhaps even the majority, will continue to be sourced internationally including, of course, from the original Norwegian suppliers if applicable. Lockheed Martin will be responsible for some sub assemblies and final assembly and test. They may also be responsible for designing and producing some of the ancillary equipment and interfaces with the ships. I would be very surprised if the whole missile was manufactured in the States.

  8. In reply to Ron5
    Why buy NSMand LRASM then Perseus?
    I do not think we should develop Perseus at all. I think a mix of LRASM and NSM will be sufficient unless Perseus is going to be a stealthy long range hypervelocity missile. I just do not see the weapon envisaged as being qualitatively superior to NSM or LRASM. We should save the developmental costs of bringing Perseus into service and use that money to purchase enough weapons to equip the RN and RAF with off the shelf products.

    • Mr Bell, I don’t believe it is possible to have a stealthy hypersonic missile. There is no way the heat signature generated by a hypersonic vehicle travelling through the atmosphere can be hidden. The idea is basically to reduce the time defensive systems have to react against an attack and shoot down or decoy all the attacking missiles, so that enough get through to cripple the target. So this is achieved either through stealth, delaying the time when radar or other sensors detect the missile, or very high velocity so that even though the missile is detected early, it closes the distance to the target very rapidly. Also, the higher the velocity the greater the kinetic energy, lessening the need for a large warhead. I believe a stealthy subsonic missile to be significantly cheaper to produce than a hypersonic vehicle, but I might be mistaken. I also would not go ahead with Perseus. And don’t get me wrong, I would be happy if MOD decided to procure NSM. it’s just that if asked, I would suggest LRASM to be a better bet. And I don’t think we can afford to buy both. Alas, I suspect MOD might buy neither and prevaricate indefinitely under the excuse that it’s developing Perseus, when in fact it is not funding the programme adequately.

  9. Am impressed and really appreciate the depth of knowledge available on this site-thank you Gentlemen. I am more of a generalist whose interest in matters military dates back to a precocious start at a very early age with models of HMS Swiftsure and Airfix Spitfires. We grew up in the 50’s when the afterglow from WW2 was still strong with Reach for the Sky, the Dambusters,Sink the Bismarck etc..

  10. As a stop gap, the NSM would appear to be a relatively cheap solution and when you consider the alternative mooted a while back by the Mandarins of Whitehall-retiring Harpoon with no replacement for a decade, well seems like the only game in town

    • Retiring Harpoon is a sensible choice by the Whitehall mandarins!

      What is the point of a weapon system if it is vulnerable to modern PDMS mounted on even the smallest vessels and you don’t dare use anyway for fear of hitting civilian traffic?!

      Harpoon made great sense during the Cold War in the open Ocean when were facing up against Soviet Surface Action Groups. With advances in technology and push towards smart multi use munitions the argument to maintain a fairly dumb fire and forget heavy anti ship missile which is vulnerable to soft and hard kill countermeasures is rather weak.

      Second generation dedicated heavy anti ship missiles like Harpoon and Exocet are rapidly being consigned to history.

  11. In terms of the RN, my preference would be to use Harpoon as a stop gap and then bring forward funding of Spear 5 which is a replacement for Storm Shadow. Make Spear 5 a cross between Storm Shadow and Sea Venom, then certify it for box launchers, MK41 VLS and sub launch. This way we will have a fitting option for all combatants and have maximum mission flexibility between ASuW and cruise missile strikes. If we can share the development and purchase with the French and Italians then orders should be enough to bring the cost down to acceptable levels and we may even get a few exports too (NATO countries only or for Australia new T26s!).

    Another interesting option would be to get an extended range version of Sea Venom. have it canister launched in a 3×3 configuration taking up the same foot print of a 4×4 Harpoon arrangement. Having 18 in total (Vs 8 Harpoon) would be good for a saturation attacks, and could mission kill much larger ships by specifically targeting sensitive bits like, mast, sensors, engine room, VLS, command centre etc. These missiles could be especially useful on smaller ships (OPV, Corvette, T31 etc) when targeted by smaller UAVs like ScanEagle and CamCopter types.

  12. You would have to hit a Kirov class battlecruiser with 30+ sea venom to significantly damage it and force its withdrawal- a number of 10-20 would be required for a udaloy, soverynmny class destroyers- I do not think we would be able to fire enough sea venom at the same time to overwhelm a full sized surface combatant armed with decent quality pdms, ciws systems.
    That is why we need a better standard of heavy weight anti ship missile- something like the NSM.

    • Correct, the long range Sea Venom would be for smaller ships like OPVs, Corvettes and possibly T31. We would keep a heavy weight missile for T45 & T26.

      However, one of the big attractions of Sea Venom is that it can be targeted against specific points on a ship so can destroy or damage critical systems. Would a Kirov (or any ship) without a functioning air/surface search radar remain in the fight blind?

      Also, we would be unlikely to send a lone T31 against a Kirov. The prime targets for this missile would be would be much smaller ships.

      It has something to add I feel, and given most of the development has already been done, adding a booster and certifying for canister launch is not beyond our capabilities. Given it’s not even integrated on Merlin we’ve no chance of a ship launched version!

      • You could scale up Sea Venom for vertical or deck launch as a Harpoon replacement. Or put its seeker and data link onto MdCN, a longer range sea-launched (vertically from Sylver) version of Storm Shadow. But guess what? The Americans have already done all this on JASSM, their equivalent of Storm Shadow and called it LRASM. So let’s save time, risk and money and buy LRASM.

        • You could say the same about any defence equipment. I agree with that sentiment for items where the UK does not have a strong industrial base but for complex missiles, this is an area where we are currently excelling at and look to enhance.

  13. Very interesting discussion and clearly tinged with much expertise and I feel a lot more aware of the complexities with a deeper understanding of the options shaped around my original question.

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