A Government minister has indicated that options for replacing the Harpoon anti-ship missile are ‘being considered’.
Harriett Baldwin, Under Secretary of State for Defence Procurement, said in response to a question in Parliament:
“The Harpoon system currently carried by the Royal Navy will reach its out of service date in 2018.
As part of a process of continuously reviewing the capabilities required to deliver their tasking, the Royal Navy is working alongside other areas of the Ministry of Defence to consider options for a Harpoon replacement.
I am withholding further detail as its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the Armed Forces.”
The minister added later:
“The Royal Navy is, of course, continuously assessing the capabilities it requires, and work is ongoing across the Department to consider the options for the Harpoon replacement.”
The Royal Navy is to lose its anti-ship missile capability in 2018 when the Harpoon missile is withdrawn.
While the fleet will still have an anti-ship capability via the submarine fleet and embarked helicopters, this will still be a significant capability gap. Harpoon missiles are unlikely to be replaced for up to a decade.
Many however have described Harpoon as totally inadequate for anti-surface warfare in today’s environment, many however also argue that it’s a useful capability and in the words of a Royal Navy officer we spoke to “better than nothing”.
According to the Telegraph, Rear-Admiral Chris Parry, said:
“It’s a significant capability gap and the Government is being irresponsible. It just shows that our warships are for the shop window and not for fighting.”
Former First Sea Lord, Lord West of Spithead said:
“This is just another example of where the lack of money is squeezing and making the nation less safe.We will have this gap of several years without missiles. Well, that’s fine if you don’t have to fight anybody in the meantime.”
As for what form a replacement will take, it’s anyones guess however Lockheed Martin are eager to have their Long Range Anti-Ship Missile fitted to new Type 26 Frigate fleet.
Frank St. John, vice president at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control said:
“Type 26 will be fitted with MK 41 vertical launching system and I believe LRASM would be a good fit for these vessels.”