Royal Navy ships will lose anti-ship missile capability in 2020 when the Harpoon missile is withdrawn with a replacement not due until ‘around 2030’.

While the Royal Navy will still have an anti-ship capability via the submarine fleet and embarked helicopters, this will still be a significant capability gap and even then, no Royal Navy helicopters will have anti-ship missile capabilities until 2020.

As we reported last year, Harriett Baldwin and her French counterpart signed an agreement to explore future long range weapons for the Royal and French Navies and Air Forces with the aim of replacing the Harpoon anti-ship missile and the Storm Shadow cruise missile as well as an array of French weapon types.

French arms procurement chief Collet-Billon said last year at the meeting:

“We are launching today a major new phase in our bilateral cooperation, by planning together a generation of missiles, successor to the Harpoon, SCALP and Storm Shadow.

The FC/ASW (future cruise/anti-ship weapon) programme’s aim is to have by around 2030 a new generation of missiles.”

The missiles however will not be ready to replace Harpoon until 2030, leaving the Type 26 Frigates without any real means to engage surface warships aside from their helicopters.

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Rob
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Rob

Lost for words………….

Harry Nelson
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Harry Nelson

To quote the great John Mcenroe “you cannot be serious”!

maurice10
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maurice10

If I were the Minister of Defence, I’d look for a supplier either in this country or abroad. In no way would I expose our frigates to real danger. Whom ever thought this was a workable strategy, should think again. If I were in the admiralty, I’d be sorely tempted to lock down the fleet, until the UK Government found a stop gap solution asap!

David E Flandry
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David E Flandry

No antiship missiles for EIGHTEEN years? This is a joke, right? Right?

David E Flandry
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David E Flandry

Oh, only TWELVE years, my mistake.

Mike Saul
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Mike Saul

Shocking decision to retire harpoon with no replacement. The question for the RN if you can do without anti ship missiles for over 12 years, then why do we need them ever? I would suggest a long range anti ship missile is essential to maintain the RNs warfighting capability. Whenever anti ship missiles have been used in warfare they have delivered devastating losses to the enemy. Large gaps in capability of UK defence forces, no replacement for swingfire, no replacement for FH70 and so on. If the manure ever does hit the fan and we are expected in full scale… Read more »

john
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john

Rob got it right,dear god.

Rob
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Rob

Actually I’m not……………. we are a flipping laughing stock!!! The Russians will be chuckling like mad and who on earth would want to be on the QE carrier group sailing through the South China Sea with frigates incapable of sinking an enemy ship? Great way to retain and recruit sailors, I think not!

Mr Bell
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Mr Bell

It is a flippin joke, albeit a terrible one that absolutely noone is laughing about. This decision could be a decision that loses RN lives and leads to us losing a war. It is that serious. We seriously cannot be saying it is ok to have warships utterly incapable of sinking enemy warships until “2030 at least”. For about £400 million we could purchase enough Norwegian anti ship missiles to kit out our entire surface fleet. The MOD have to do this as an urgent operational requirement. Surely this fits the UOR, if it does not I am struggling to… Read more »

Matt
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Matt

But it isn’t an urgent operational requirement, is it?

I daresay that we might have an idea up our sleeves if a threat does present itself.

Pete
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Pete

UK(NONE)DJ

Ian
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Ian

Here’s a detailed debate on Harpoon, most notably TAS’s comments with which I wholeheartedly agree.

https://thinpinstripedline.blogspot.co.uk/2017/08/to-sink-story-royal-navy-and-harpoon.htm

Foreign Aid up again this year, just the ‘up’ bit enough to sort out a Harpoon upgrade many times and an extra T26 every coupla years!

Three cheers for St Theresa

Elliott
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Elliott

Does MoD realize even how long missile delivery takes? No missile till 2030 then a whole new system. That won’t be 12 years it will be closer to 15 at least. That’s if the developers meet every deadline (a first in military/government procurement). Why waste money on this unproven missile? There are plenty options on the market. Harpoon Block II+,LRSAM, don’t want American want something closer to home? NSM- Norway, RBS-15 Mk.III ER- Sweden,how about an oldy but a goody Exocet Block III-France. All of which are actually in or at least starting production. And therefore could be acquired at… Read more »

Conor
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Conor

So no chance of LRASM for the mk.41 on type 26?

Ben
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Ben

I too thought that this was going to be a thing… It says so on the wikipedia page!

A. Smith
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A. Smith

We need to buy NSM box launchers for the Type 45s and 23s. When the Type 23s are decommissioned, the NSM box launchers (with Artisan an Sea Ceptor) could be moved to the Type 26s and 31s.

Steven Jones
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Steven Jones

Didnt the MOD say, just days ago, that painfull lessons had been learned from it’s failure to procure a better protected alternative to the Snatch Land Rover for Iraq and Afghanistan, which resulted in the death and injury of dozens of servicemen and women ? Until these weasels are held to account (jailed or fired) the bean counters will hold sway in the halls of power.

Pacman27
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Pacman27

Yes they did (Fallon personally wrote this I believe).

Clearly disingenuous to the core.

I think we are now at a point where a one off boost needs to be added to the mod budget, perhaps 50% of the foreign aid budget for 5 years.

The military have been on operations for over 30 years now and they really are flogging dead horses with much of the equipment.

Steve R
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Steve R

I would prefer that the 50% transfer was permanent! Defence needs to be 2.5% GDP as a minimum, with Trident (a political not military system) funded separately.

Josh
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Josh

The LRASM has been launched from launchers in tests, so the lack of mk41 cells on the Darings wouldn’t be an issue. Maybe an emergency order of those?

KieranC
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KieranC

Am I missing something here? What’s the new news, there is a quote from last year. Am I missing an article from today that I can’t find? We knew the new missile wouldn’t be ready until end of next decade.

But surely when the type 26 comes into service with MK-41 we can purchase LRASM off the Americans until our Anglo-French missile is ready?

David Stephen
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David Stephen

Thank god someone else appears to have read the article and not just the headline. It says nothing new about the subject from anyone. No new information or announcements, just the author pitching a fit.

colin
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colin

Has Uk got enough ships and harpoon missiles ???????

RUSSIA has sent a fleet of more than 70 warships to Baltic Sea for a series military drills to “assess their readiness” in the event of a full naval alert.

Steve R
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Steve R

Given the ‘Closer defence ties’ just announced between the UK and Japan, will that include weaponry? If so, the new Japanese XSSM missile could well be the answer to our Harpoon replacement problem. A Mach 3 SSM with a range of 150Km is just what is needed.

Will
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Will

So when a Type 26 is sent to shadow a group of Russian naval vessels through the channel, it really will be just for show.

David Stone
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David Stone

Isn’t it always for show though?

Neither side is going to actually engage the other in these situations. I read somewhere the other day that no anti ship missile, such as the Harpoon, has ever been fired in anger by one vessel at another. Not to mention the lack of political will to order it to happen.

That being said, if everyone else has them I’d want them too!

Ron5
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Ron5

You read wrong. Hundreds of anti-ship missiles have been fired.

Steven Jones
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Steven Jones

Ron5, Ship to ship ?

Paul.P
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Paul.P

This decision only makes sense if guided ammunition is available for the Type 26 Mk45 gun.
http://www.leonardocompany.com/en/-/bae-vulcano
Isn’t the range of this ammunition is comparable with Harpoon Block 1C? A shower of 20 or so 5in shells a minute is more likely to kill a peer frigate opponent than one of two anti ship missiles which might be easily decoyed or shot down.
Still leaves the problem perhaps of the newer longer range and high speed anti ship missiles which the Russians seem to be putting on their new corvettes in numbers. Maybe ship or air launched LRASM is the answer.

A. Smith
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A. Smith

I think it’s time the US started to commit to buying our weapons before we buy any further US missiles as the transactions between the US and UK are very one sided. British companies have to partner with an American one when competing for deals in the US but the UK never asks the same for American companies touting their goods in the UK. If the UK went for LRASM it would have to be in the agreement that the US would buy British military goods (E.g. Brimstone, Type 26) and to create jobs in the UK. A better option… Read more »

Paul.P
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Paul.P

Ok, I’ll bite. Fremm, Caesar, Rafale, Aster….Sea Eagle Mk2?

Ron5
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Ron5

15% of all F-35’s are made in the UK. That’s worth billions to the UK.

PKCasimir
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PKCasimir

A, Smith. What planet do you live on? US Defense Budget $582 billion. UK Defense Budget $57.9 billion. That sound you hear is the Americans laughing at you.

A. Smith
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A. Smith

@PKCasimir – I think you’ve illustrated my point perfectly for me.

The US can easily afford to buy more UK weapons and equipment and it’s the UK Government’s job to make sure that these transactions are fairer and also create jobs in the UK.

Mr Bell
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Mr Bell

Paul you are right. The proliferation of advanced anti ship missiles of cruise, stealth and hyper velocity types, all mean the RN is soon going to be a liability unable to defend itself. It is entirely feasible in any conflict that a RN or NATO surface ship group could be attacked by 100-200 missiles. Cost of attack £100-200 million vs ships sunk and lives lost= priceless The Chinese and Russians know this cost vs damage equation and so are investing very heavily on area denial weapons. We simply have to get the NSM asap. We cannot wait 13+ years for… Read more »

A. Smith
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A. Smith

I agree, we need NSM on the Type 45’s and Type 23’s as soon as possible. We keep hearing from Michael Fallon that we are going to be “upping our game” militarily so having ships without anti-ship missiles for 13 years is inexcusable.

David
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David

To your point – Fallon keeps touting the Government’s 178Bn pound equipment budget to the point where I am SOOOOOO sick of hearing it. Anyway, within that NO money can be found for an interim ASM?? Fallon is full of it and everyone knows it.

A. Smith
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A. Smith

I agree. What Michael Fallon says and what he delivers are polar opposites.

Paul.P
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Paul.P

The key phrase you use I think is ( cheap) ‘area denial’. A RN frigate is supposed to control an area of sea such ( such that an expeditionary force can be landed). I’m guessing that Wildcat with Sea Venom has a strike radius of over 150 miles and the missile itself over 25 miles – is this a total of more than NSM? Maybe the plan is to knock out these corvettes before they can target the frigate. But I am a mere layman. Surely someone has gamed these scenarios. I am also thinking that in a conflict where… Read more »

David Stephen
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David Stephen

Who has 200 ASMs to lob at us? Or the platforms to put them in the strike area?

AShropshireLad
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AShropshireLad

Why aren’t we buying some Harpoon Block II upgrade kits. Surely this is the easiest thing to do while we wait for Anglo French missile. The Harpoon even in block II format is a bit long in the tooth but it would fit in existing launchers etc. Or is there another reason? Did MOD sign a TOBA style arrangement with MBDA meaning we have to spend £x million with them a year?

alfie
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alfie

So wait we will have two new aircraft carriers with no aircraft for a few years barley enough escorts with no anti ship defence . BRITTANIA RULES THE WAVES . i allmost dont want to serve in the navy anymore

Steved40
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Steved40

So the Harpoons are to be withdrawn next year because they are reaching their “out of service date”? Can someone tell me why we can’t just change the date and hang onto them until we can afford some shiny new ones? I don’t know about you but if I had to I’d rather go to war with some slightly old ASMs than none at all…..

Mr Bell
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Mr Bell

TH you can just bog off. The UK can and should be able to afford correct defensive forces. If we cannot why are we sending £13 billion a year abroad as foreign aid. why have we just cut corporation tax to big business? Most major economies in the world at the moment all have astronomically high governmental debt. The UK is not unique in that fact. Our debt to GDP ratio is actually dropping vs France, Italy, Japan, USA all increasing. Only Gwrmany is in a stronger position with regards debt in that it has none. That is only because… Read more »

Will
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Will

The rate of increase of the national debt may be falling but the debt itself is still rising and there is nothing to suggest that it will be reduced anytime soon.
UK debt is rising at something like £5100 a second and French debt at 2700 Euro a second. http://www.nationaldebtclock.co.uk/

Will
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Will

Having said that, I entirely disagree with TH’s reasoning. Decent armed forces can be afforded with good economic stewardship and you can’t just walk away from one of the fundamental responsibilities of the State: to defend the country and it’s people.

Mike Saul
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Mike Saul

I think we spend enough on defence given the current threat level, it’s just we spend it really badly.

Billions wasted on low priority projects and massive overspend on other projects.

We need to get back to basics and decide to spend on high priority projects rather than PR based projects.

C Rogers
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C Rogers

Sad to say but it would seem that capability gaps which were at one time unthinkable are now acceptable eg maritime patrol aircraft, carrier-borne aircraft and now anti-ship missiles. When will our politicians wake up? I find it reprehensible that our services are expected to carry out their tasks without appropriate equipment: If you want to play at being a major power the give our services the means to do it.

Paul.P
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Paul.P

Harpoon, RBS15, Exocet, NSM, Otomat, Sea Eagle.
Spot the odd one out. So the RAF and the RN are less capable than they were in 1986, then?http://www.blackburn-buccaneer.co.uk/Pages1_files/Technical_files/0_Missile3.html?

Julian
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Julian

It does seem tragic how much we seem to spend vs what we get. I get tired of all political parties claiming in their manifestos that they will fund billions and billions of expenditure, tax cuts etc by further efficiency gains. Most department have supposedly been subject to efficiency improvements over about the last 3 or 4 parliaments so just where do politicians think these extra gains will come from, or rather how come there are still claimed to be significant gains to be made after 15 or 20 years of successive governments supposedly having done the job already? That’s… Read more »

KieranC
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KieranC

Hi Julian, as such the nice guy you are, you’ve unintentionally “fed the troll” TH has no interest in the armed forces or our lack of capability. He strategically makes comments on certain articles about defence to give the impression he’s interested and to not stand out as the troll that he is. But every now and then, when you engage him, his mask slips and terms like “armchair general” and “play with your airfix models” come out. He would quite happily have Britain spend an absolute pittence and reduce our armed forces reduced to ROI level. He hates that… Read more »

Julian
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Julian

Thanks for the kind words Kieran. I’ve actually snapped at TH a few times myself – it’s the “who is we” nonsense that really infuriated me. Is “we the taxpayers” such a hard concept to understand? Obviously yes, or rather his repeated failure to get the message is evidence of a troll so I have taken your comments on board and will now cease all engagement with him.

KieranC
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KieranC

?

Paul.P
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Paul.P

Is the issue really that the MOD are fixated on LRASM and want to buy US kit rather than NSM? So the RN have to suffer another ‘capability gap’. Fine, I have no problem with LRASM as a long term strategy but RN frigates without a serious anti ship missile is a national embarassment. I cannot see any reason other than MOD dullness, why we should not at the very least get Boeing to refurbish a few dozen GWS60 block 1C Harpoons and upgrade them to Block 2.

A. Smith
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A. Smith

We should only buy LRASM if we can get a significant discount or Lockheed Martin agrees to the being built / assembled in the UK. Or, we will go buy the NSM off the shelf tomorrow.

Paul.P
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Paul.P

I think you are starting to get to the root of things. Does the government have the will to confront the issue of NSM versus something US made? Is it waiting to see if NSM makes it onto LCS? What about an anti ship missile for the UK for the UK’s F-35B’s and/or P8 Poseidon? There’s politics at play here and the RN is suffering. Didn’t a team from the UK go see the Otomat a year or two back? Good missile. It’s the indecision that’s killing us ( no pun intended!)

Ron5
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Ron5

No, it’s lack of money that’s the problem. Not lack of missiles to buy.

Paul.P
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Paul.P

Ok, so it looks like the decision is to do without a heavyweight shipborne AShM. So in the unlikely event we need to disable a peer opponent frigate we will have better intel to get the drop on them and rely on Sea Venom/Astute/Paveway IV or in the relatively near future Spear 3 or long range Mk45 guided ammunition.

colin
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colin

It is all very well keep on saying we should buy the NSM but May and the two stupid so called Defence minsters Fallon and Harriett Baldwin do not read these posts. UK needs to start calling the Local MP’s and get this rasied in Parliament or go to Change dot org and make the Government aware of how the voters are feeling about the 12 year wait until we get a new Surface to Surface missile putting the service men and women at risk . Personnely Fallon and Harriett remind me of John Nott during the 1982 Conflict wanting… Read more »

A. Smith
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A. Smith

Things will get a lot worse if they announce the Type 31 as a stretched Corvette / OPV which will not be a capable war fighting vessel AND without anti-ship missiles.

Julian
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Julian

T31 would to me be additional justification for adopting NSM. Perhaps by “stretched Corvette / OPV” you’re talking about the BAE proposals, Cutlass or (big shudder) Avenger in which case I have no idea what those can carry but of the other two candidates that tend to get mentioned, Spartan and Venator 110, both have designed-in spaces for 2 x 4 box launchers which would seem ideal for NSM. If budgets are under pressure and T31 costs need to be squeezed to maximise the hull numbers then all soft-launch VLS on T31 for Sea Ceptor and hopefully Spear 3 if… Read more »

Ron5
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Ron5

agreed.

A. Smith
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A. Smith

Yes, I was referring to BAE’s and Babcock’s proposals.

If they go down the “BAE Cutlass” route (Stretched Khareef with Artisan and Sea Ceptor) without Mark 41 VLS for the Type 31’s then I’d expect to see NSM and Tomahawk box launchers at the very least.

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

Yes, for cost reasons I would not expect Mk41 on the RN version of Type 31(e). Given we have Tomahawk on Astute and Mk41 on Type 26 I see a GP frigate being able to deliver NGS but not deep strike. But it would be good if the MOD chose Venator over Cutlass so that export versions could have Mk41 and the RN had the option in future. I don’t believe Khareef was designed with Mk41 in mind so Cutlass would be more than a ‘stretch’ if the RN insisted on ffbnw Mk41. I think I feel a case of… Read more »

Graham
Guest
Graham

Imagine Nelson looking at his third rates and thinking ‘fitted for 24 pounders but not with’…

KieranC
Guest
KieranC

So, the steel has been cut on the first type 26, the type 45 took 6 years from then to commission, the river class 4. They say it will be 2023 which is 6 years so we will go with that. The big decision seems to me has not been made yet, will the mod send that first type 26 out with an off the shelf anti-ship missile like LRASM or will it not. If it does that’s just a 5 year capability gap (5 years is long enough I know) This talk of 2030 is just rumour and hyperbole.… Read more »

Lewis
Guest
Lewis

In ten years when all our fleet is sunk abd the QE carrier is at the bottom of the sea, all because the ‘escorts fleet’ couldn’t protect anything, I hope they record the names of the bean counters and politicans who made this decision so they can be cbarged with 10,000 counts of murder.

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

The distance from Diego Garcia to Abu Dhabi is 4000km, well within the range of a P-8 Poseidon with underwing Harpoons. Maybe there isn’t a problem.

Robert blay
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Robert blay

The Royal Navy has never fired a single Harpoon missile at anybody, not once. If we ever have to engage someone else’s surface ships, a Astute class hunter killer would be much more effective. Unfortunately anti ship missiles arent going to stop a ISIS bomber trying to blow up another uk arena or tourist spot in London. Its about priorities and dealing with the current threat. And despite all the muscle flexing from the Russians, there fleet is old and and hugly unreliable. There single carrier cant leave port without a tug following it incase it breaks down.

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

Agree. The most likely missile threat to RN ships is from bad guys on shore.
https://news.usni.org/2016/10/04/official-3-u-s-warships-off-yemen-following-attack-uae-ship
Wildcat with Sea Venom or the Mk 45 would kill the launch sites. In open water against a peer frigate you would rely on an Astute or air power. Realisticallly we are not going to engage in Jutland type scenarios with the Chinese or Russian navies. Iranian FACs and Corvettes is another matter and that is where we are spending the money. Upgrades to the Type 23 30mm to DS30M Mk2 for example.

Robert blay
Guest
Robert blay

Well said Paul. I am a huge supporter of the Navy ( i served in it for 14 year) but most of the comments on this thread are stupid beyond belief. RAF Typhoons have just conducted very successful anti ship exercises with a Type 45 in the baltic using the paveway 4. Id love to see all our surface ships fitted with the very latest and lethal weapon systems, but at this very moment in time maybe that money is best going to MI5/6 and our anti terrorist police. We can’t afford it all. P8, Astute, wildcat is far more… Read more »

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

I am just an interested taxpayer, but the RN dates from England herself and is something to be proud of. Seems to me there is an element of &ick waving in respect of AShM. The Falklands wounds are still raw but that Exocet was air launched. We can defend against virutally all AShm now with Sea Wolf/ Ceptor. And the obvious offensive successor to air launched Exocet seems to me to be Typhoon or F-35b and Paveway IV or Spear 3. Worth noting that after the latest mid life upgrades a Type 23 with 4.5in gun, Artisan, Sea Ceptor, Wildcat… Read more »

Mike
Guest
Mike

I would love to see the MoD RA on this one, astounding! Never under estimate the power of stupidity!!!

Robert blay
Guest
Robert blay

Thanks TH. Though i don’t agree with reduced defence spending or a coastal force. I just dont understand the great fuss being made about the loss of anti ship missile that has never been used. A replacement will come in time, but in the mean time, Astute, Trident replacement, T26, T31, Wildcat/Merlin/Crowsnest and carrier strike and the F35 are much more important funding lines for the Navy. There has been huge and unacceptable cuts to our forces, but much to look forward to. The money saved from the loss of harpoon should be put back in to retention of much… Read more »

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

I must agree with Ian and the link to TAS and his assessment here . https://thinpinstripedline.blogspot.co.uk/2017/08/to-sink-story-royal-navy-and-harpoon.htm RN Harpoon GWS60 will probably never get clearance under ROE to be fired in a crowded littoral environment. Its a blue water “Red Storm Rising ” naval warfare weapon. Compared to today’s man in the loop or intelligent systems its a dumb missile and I am speaking as a former maintainer of the thing. You tell it where to go, what way points to fly to, when to turn its seeker on and what attack profile to fly. When it gets to the target… Read more »

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

Very informative post. Thx.

David Stephen
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David Stephen

Not sure the cost would be as great as you imagine for an interim solution. If we are clever about it we will buy LRASM. The US navy will have taken care of most of the costs by the time we need the missiles in 2023. The weapon has already completed succsefull test launches from deck mounted box containers similar to Harpoon and is due to be integrated with MK41 as well. Or we could be really lucky and the USN picks Tomahawk Anti Ship and almost all the proposed costs disappear. LRASM seems more likely though and as it… Read more »

A. Smith
Guest
A. Smith

What’s cheaper – To bring in an extra plane, helicopter and submarine to support every frigate or to give the vessels the missiles they need? Where are the extra planes, helicopters and submarines going to come from? Where is the extra money going to come from? Where will the extra crew come from? We don’t have the resources to hunt subs in our own waters let alone police our coastlines. As each month passes, another ship is either decommissioned or for sale. New ship numbers are reduced and costs continue to increase. I think it’s time that people take their… Read more »

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[…] British frigate fleet to lack anti-ship missiles until ‘around 2030’ […]

John R
Guest
John R

WTF good is a warship that can’t fight another warship??? It would appear that Argentina only has to wait about 3-4 years… and they can walk into the Falklands unopposed. No SSM for either the ships.. or the Helos.. and we won’t even mention a carrier with no planes.

Lord Stirling
Guest
Lord Stirling

Royal Navy warships without offensive anti-ship missiles…you have got to be kidding me…that’s like saying the Royal Navy rejoins the early 20th Century! Maybe the Royal Navy can take in tourists and use its warships as cruise ships! Shameful, just shameful!
Stirling

Lars Cocklehurst
Guest
Lars Cocklehurst

Again MoD is a laughing stock. Disgraceful decision amongst a litany if them.

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

A pejorative view. Penury does focus the mind. If we can’t even afford to upgrade GWS60 to Harpoon 2 any talk of LRASM could be a pipe dream. Better to focus on the funding decisions which have been made and the capabilities they deliver in the context of likely conflicts: type 26, Wildcat and Sea Venom, Astute, QE class. Typhoon and F-35B will both have Spear 3, a 60 mile range missile. The Type 26 Mk41’s will likely be empty for a long time but its 5in gun might have have long range over the horizon guided ammo fairly soon.… Read more »

Steve Page
Guest

It is quite obvious a decision was taken a while back that UK defence forces were to be that in name only. Politicians are gambling with national security not having learnt the lessons of the past, the question is why? It is my belief we are seeing another generation of politicians prepared and willing to continue Labours ‘managed decline’ of the U.K. from a tier one military in this case to a regional player at best, the question we have to ask ourselves again is why. I believe we need look no further than our own nhs. At some point… Read more »