The Harpoon anti-ship missile was due to be retired from Royal Navy service in 2018, that is now understood to have changed.

Jane’s reported that senior sources informed them that the missles would remain in service at least until 2020. According to the publication:

“There is work ongoing to look at options for longer extension in service.”

Royal Navy ships were originally to lose anti-ship missile capability in 2018 when the Harpoon missile is withdrawn with a replacement not due until ‘around 2030’.

While the Royal Navy would 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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It’s good their keeping the them in service a bit longer, but it’s still ridiculous that we will be 10 years without an on-board anti ship missile, and if they think helicopters (which take a while to get armed & airborne) are enough, then they (Government) are not fit to decide on our countries defence. I just hope our sailors don’t have to face a real naval threat until 2030 (or let’s be honest 2034 or some time later because someone will not be happy about something or other in government and want’s to cut costs again).

Bloke down the pub

At least, with the Type 23s being converted to operate an open architecture computer system, they should be able to plug and play any compatible missile on the market.


The Type 26 is going to have strike length VLS so not sure why we can’t just buy a number of possible missiles until Perseus comes around 2030.

I wonder if that’s what she means when she says “exploring a number of options”

I’m also struggling with the dates here perhaps I have missed something, The steel has been cut for the first Type 26 but on the NSS first delivery will be 2026 it says, 9 years away? That has to be a mistake.

geoffrey james roach

Please see my post “down” the page


Its farcical that we are in this position and people should be sacked. I still don’t understand why the RN is getting rid of its torpedo tubes as well – as surely these are one of the most inexpensive systems available. I agree with Will that helicopters are not the answer to everything and the ships themselves need to be far more capable. The RN needs to make all their vessels far more capable from an attack point of view as in reality I do not believe they could win a firefight against a near peer asset. That includes a… Read more »


No submariner worth his salt would get close enough to a target to let it launch a lightweight torpedo. That is why the main anti-submarine weapons on frigates and destroyers are helicopter launched torpedoes. The Mk 41 launcher fit on Type 26 will give MoD the opportunity to fit VL-ASROC, but I doubt they will spend the money.


And on the other side, if you’re frigate is within range to hit the sub with ship launched torpedoes you’re already in a pretty terrible position.


Hardly inexpensive.
MTLS (T23 System) has 4 tubes in the magazine. They need the computer control system that talks to the torpedoes, sonar and command system. Tube local control panels, HP air system for the discharge system. The handling system to get the torpedoes out of the magazine stowage into the tubes, the fittings that go on the torpedo in the tube ( Includes a parachute drogue), the torpedo its self, spares, maintainers,training for the loading crew.
It all adds up.
And as said, if you ever need to fire it its probably already to late!


What if the vessels become subject to attack in very bad weather, where a helicopter cannot be deployed or a submarine is unavailable at the same time.? The notion that other platforms can protect a frigate is a nonsense, it must have its own independent system. If the RN were to find themselves engaged in a hostile naval exchange, and the enemy is aware of the frigate’s lack of anti-ship missile, then we could be facing a Falkland level of exposure?


On the face of it good news but even the navy admit the missiles are redundent and can be easily countered by modern air defences. I think there comment was better than nothing, which i guess remains true.


It’s one thing to plan to have a gap after careful consideration, but in this case we just seem to have drifted into it because no one would make a decision. That’s just a bit rubbish.


You’re absolutely right that it almost seems like the navy having the means to conduct naval warfare was something everyone kind of forgot about, its really concerning.

geoffrey james roach

I have been trying to get this message across now for a week or more, firstly that Harpoon could have a temporary reprieve but mainly to say that discussions are already taking place with a view to a “filler” system. The Standard Mk 6, able to be launched from Mk41 silo,s is front runner.


How can SM-6 be a filler system when in 2020 no RN ships will have Mk41 vls?

Ben P

He must believe in magic.

geoffrey james roach

Type 23’s, entering service from 2023 and retro fit to 45’s. Apart from that you have to rely on the navy who obviously believe it to be feasible.


I can see the Type 45 argument; Mk41 would give BMD and AShM with the same missile. Would need to motor though to avoid a capability gap. Ditto for Type 26. Type 31 will have to make do with Sea Venom.

geoffrey james roach

As I understand it ,Paul, MBDA are working up a ship launched version as well as the helicopter version. It would certainly boost the fire power of a Type 31.


Interesting. Would certainly be more reassuring to be able to fire an AShM without needing to launch your helo. Still a huge difference in hitting power through. Sea Venom warhead 30kg approx, Harpoon 220kg ( wiki). That said I imagine a salvo of Sea Venom would be harder to decoy and/or intercept.

geoffrey james roach

….and shorter range, but better than nothing. Salvo interesting thought.

Nick Bowman

Trolling again TH? Britain has been engaged in at least five major conflicts during my lifetime. None of them could have been easily predicted. It seems rather high-handed of you to suggest that we should abandon reasonable defences in favor of more focus on mortgages and car payments. I could understand your thinking if the World had experienced widespread pacifism of late. Surely you would acknowledge that’s not the case? Are you watching Russia, China, Iran and N.Korea? Should we not be prepared to contribute to efforts in Syria and Afghanistan? How about deterring aggression in the Baltic states or… Read more »


He’s a moron. If he’s struggling with his mortgage he should lower his aspirations.


Don’t think he believes any of the things he spouts off about he is just looking for a reply to make his day worthwhile. We have given him that for free so I suppose that is socialism in action


They have achieved a lot of dead damned terrorists. You are under the mistaken impression your guard can ever be lowered.
And on your mortgage payments get a real job or do some overtime. Buy a car within your means.


And who do we rely on to make sure we have a house to pay for or roads to drive on? One of the largest submarine fleets I believe is North Korea who we may not consider a threat now but people thought that a few years ago they would not have a nuclear missile to hit Japan/Guam with. Not taking them seriously has paid off now hasn’t it? Thank god that people like you are in a minority in this country who believe that governments first role should not be the security of its citizens but instead should provide… Read more »


Do you understand the concept of deterence? When the uk cut its military strength relying on the good will of its rivals to do the same we got world war 1 and 2. Cut our aircraft carriers and we got the falklands war, the us left al-qaeda unchecked and got the war on terror. Pascifism and under equiping your military removes any deterence for countries like china and russia to do whey like in the ukraine and sout china sea.

Mike Saul

For me the choice is clear keep the harpoons in service in the short term whilst we procure a new heavyweight anti ship missile within 5 years.

Options are NSM or LRASM.

Paper projects with some distant in service date don’t really cut the mustard


I’m with Pacman my worry.

However I also worry that TH and people like him are allowed to vote and breed.


Agreed hopefully his wife is sterile.

geoffrey james roach

Cut it out fellas He may be annoying and he may be wrong but he doesn’t deserve these comments. This is a defence site.


@GJRr absolutely. I disagree with TH’s fundamental opposition to defence spending, but throwing insults demeans this forum and those speakers making these comments, not him.

As for TH’s line about ‘vanity projects’, given the capabilty gaps we are talking about here – this is valid point. Either RN ships are capable or fighting – or they are just very expensive vanity projects. If we have them I want them to be able to go into harm’s way if they have to.
best Tim62


‘However I also worry that TH and people like him are allowed to vote and breed’

I dusagree with him completely but’s way OTT.


If we’re are working with the French surely adopting an upgraded Exocet mm40 would be a sensible interim option until Perseus or similar arrives or surely the us navy has the same issue I am sure they will have a replacement


I had thought our Harpoon’s were nearing there “expiry dates” and this was why they were being retired. Was I wrong on this or are they intending to refurbish them?

Ben P

The harpoons are old and no longer effective, they are also coming to the end of their service life, which is why they were been removed. But since we do not have a replacement, we are going with the anything is better than nothing approach.


What are the yanks doing to replace harpoon? Can we mot buy a few of that until 2030?

Otherwise the RN it seems could not defeat a squad of sea cadets in a dinghy beyond machine gun range!!!


An amalgam of two other posts I have made but relevant I believe none the less . The devil will be in the detail. If they extend GWS 60 Harpoon it may be that the number of missiles at sea drops due to the LIFEX of components. So whilst they keep the system it may be that fewer ships actually sail around with missiles onboard or with a full outfit in place. This happened with Exocet many years ago…less and less ( Filled) canisters fitted to ships as its components expired past the sell by date. As to upgrades… I… Read more »


Luckily all that integration work is done and the Navy for a modest sum can upgrade their Harpoons to the latest and best version.

No muss…. no fuss.


I take it you have no experience of onboard weapon systems and getting them to work onboard ships…so no the integration is not done. That’s the point I made above. It takes a long time and costs a lot more than the cost of an actual missile. It is not like the Army going down the UOR route to buy Mine Protected vehicles. They where stand alone and didn’t integrate with anything. Warships are a collection of systems that interface with each other. Get it wrong and other systems are affected and affected badly. New electronics may take more power…is… Read more »

Bruce Sellers

Good reply- thank you.

Mr Bell

Really good post about difficulties of buying a new off the shelf missile system Gunbuster. Thanks, helpful to see the extent of integration problems even for an off the shelf missile. I think by deferring the decision to retire until 2020 we will see a gradual reduction in harpoon availability and therefore numbers of missiles at sea. could we get a large number of type 1Bs (the same as the Aussies have) as an interim. These weapons have a land attack capability and a longer range? All deferring the decision to retire has done hopefully is lit a torch under… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Why is it OK with you leftist morons that every other nation bar the UK can have a military but not us? The UK has a certain world standing as all nations aspire to. G8 member. P5 member. NATO member. One of the worlds richest nations with cultural, political, military, historical links world wide going back centuries. Pains people like you doesn’t it? If other nations around the world have this sort of stuff why not the UK? What would you have our sailors do if their ship was ever attacked by another vessel, surrender? Every nation has a right… Read more »

geoffrey james roach

Because a good number of the people slating the UK are leftist …….. and other things as well, or they could be ex admirals, but then one or two of them are …… well!


‘Why is it OK with you leftist morons that every other nation bar the UK can have a military but not us?’

Not all of us on the left are anti-military – certainly not me. I’m disgusted with the present government and its immediate predecessor for the huge, damaging cuts in both manpower & equipment over the last 7 years.


They quietly rely on the UK and NATO, though they don’t have the same worldwide interests as the UK.


Daniele what makes you think he is “leftist” he is anything but if you’re a regular reader of this site.

Stop thinking the defence of this country solely belongs to your political persuasion because it doesn’t.


@KieranC indeed, petty party point-scoring is irrelevant to this forum. And the notion that only those on the right of the political spectrum believe in defence spending is factual nonsense. As it happens, in the post-war period, defence spending peaked under Labour after the outbreak of the Korean war…
best Tim62


Own up TH, you are a Russian Troll and I claim my 5 Roubles.


The population of neutral Ireland is 4.6 million and they have a balance of trade surplus to which agriculture is a major contributor. The UK has a large trade deficit amd cannot feed herself. Battle of the Atlantic ring any bells? The UK imports 30% of its natural gas from Qatar drawn largely from a has field shared with Iran whose navy is here. Not to mention sundry Somali pirates. We are not basing mother ships, mine sweepers, frigates and future aircraft carriers in the Gulf for the fun of it. Rather to protect our economy and health of… Read more »


I think it’s neccessary for the warning comments from various ex-RN people, but it’s such an obvious gap in capability, that it will just as obviously be filled with a short-term, and even medium term capability. One problem is that while there are plenty of helicopters, there’s not so many SSNs, and they really are stretched to fulfill all roles needed for them. So yes, there needs to be ship to ship capability, without any gap at all. Even if not the best – and even if that costs more than it should if a sensible long-term option was currently… Read more »

Peter French

Once again the stupidity of the MOD was revealed when they announced the Phase out of Harpoon earlier now renounced.
Again with the aquisition of the F35 the final delivery will be in I believe in 2030 or somesuch,
Astounding complacency but regretably no surprise

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lone warrior

Its a shame that government think more about foreign aid than defence. we have a fundamental right for our government to defend us . This isn’t happening , as for Fallen the man is a Joke , Knighted for god knows what service to the nation , for a good defence minister would ensure we had defence capability. We give away 3 carriers and 12 type 45 each and every year or 10 astute. Over the lifetime of two successive tory governments 120 billion plus in aid to other countries whilst cutting our forces to the bone its a national… Read more »


The Norwegian NSM has just been adopted by he USN. Let’s just get some of those. Keeping Harpoon in service a bit longer does not really help as Harpoon is no longer effective against modern counter measures. If the USN is happy with NSM then that’s good enough for me. We don’t need a 20 year long program to develop our own with the French. We might even be able to lease some from Norway, Germany or the US who also use it. The Andrew has been cut back to the bone already and now they are chopping off limbs,… Read more »