The MoD are looking for missile with ship launched over the horizon precision anti-ship capability and a terrain following precision maritime land attack capability.
The MoD Weapons, Torpedoes, Tomahawk and Harpoon Project Team (the TTH project team) advise they are looking to outfit five Royal Navy vessels, the Type 23 Frigates, with the systems.
According to the contract notice:
“The TTH project team, part of the UK Ministry of Defence, hereafter referred to as the authority, has a requirement for the provision and introduction into service of the I-SSGW system as an interim replacement for the existing system that is going out of service.
The I-SSGW is to provide a ship launched over the horizon precision anti-ship capability and a terrain following precision maritime land attack capability.
It is anticipated that the I-SSGW capability will operate on X 5 Type 23 (Towed Array) frigates capable of concurrent Anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and Anti Surface Warfare (ASuW) operations in protection of a formed Maritime Tasking Group, for a 10-year period.”
The Harpoon anti-ship missile was due to be retired from Royal Navy service last year, that changed however. Jane’s reported that senior sources informed them that the missiles 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Royal Navy ships were originally to lose anti-ship missile capability in 2018 when the Harpoon missile is withdrawn with a replacement not due until ‘around 2030’, the interim missile would fill that gap.
What options are there until 2030?
According to Naval News here, there are only a few realistic options for the interim missile system:
“With this new requirement in mind, likely remaining bidders for the the SSGW requirement include Lockheed Martin with the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM), Kongsberg with the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) and Saab’s RBS15 Mk4 , three anti-ship missiles of the latest generation.”
According to the contract notice, the system will fill the 10 year gap until 2030.
What is being planned for the 2030’s?
The Anglo-French Future Anti-Ship Weapon (FC/ASW).
The FC/ASW aims to replace Storm Shadow/SCALP air launched cruise missile in operational service in the UK and France as well as Exocet anti-ship missile in France and Harpoon anti-ship missile in the UK.
Equally funded by France and the UK, the FC/ASW Concept Phase is a product of the defence relationship set out between both nations by the Lancaster House treaties.
Recently, MBDA announced the successful achievement of the weapons “Key Review”, jointly conducted with Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) and the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), the British and French armament procurement agencies.
The conclusion of this Key Review makes it possible to select the most promising missile concepts in order to meet the requirements expressed by both nations’ armed forces.
The firm says that more in-depth studies will now be conducted on these concepts with the aim of identifying the solutions that will be selected at the end of the concept phase in 2020 in order to answer both nations’ requirements for long range anti-ship missions, suppression of enemy air defences and deep strike.
“The conclusions of this study will also make it possible to establish the road maps for maturing the technologies required, and to launch any follow on assessment phase. This new phase will demonstrate the necessary maturity of the weapon system and its key components, to be followed by the development and production phase in the 2024 timeframe, so that current weapons systems can be replaced in accordance with required timescales.”
The FC/ASW programme was born from converging requirements expressed by both France and the UK for a long range anti-ship capability – to deal with the possibility of a confrontation on the high seas, a capability to neutralise the most advanced air defences, and a deep strike capability that can penetrate defences and hit long-distance hardened targets.