The interim anti-ship missile will fill the gap between Harpoon retiring and the ‘Future Cruise/Anti–Ship Weapon’ entering service.
Progress on the interim missile appears to be slow however, with the 2023 in service date fast aproaching.
Jeremy Quin, Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence, said last year:
“The Royal Navy has set the requirements for a Surface-to-Surface Guided Weapon (SSGW) to ensure they maintain the ability to deter and defeat enemy warships. A competition is now taking place and on current plans, subject to funding, we expect bids to provide a solution to SSGW, by mid-2021.“
That has not happened. However, in March this year he said:
“The interim surface-to-surface guided weapon will replace the Royal Navy’s existing Harpoon missile capability. There was a healthy response from Industry to the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire and we are planning to proceed to issue an Invitation to negotiate to the down selected bidders later this year.”
Today, Quin said:
“A timescale for an initial operating capability would be determined during a future Surface to Surface Guided Weapon (SSGW) system procurement process. An Invitation to Negotiate has not been released and it would be inappropriate to comment further on future programme timelines.”
Does this mean that the Ministry of Defence is letting this lip in favour of extening Harpoon support? In January fo this year, Babcock International announced a further contract extension has been agreed to continue in-service support to the Harpoon Missile System for the Royal Navy.
Background to the ‘Interim’ anti-ship missile
In 2019, the Ministry of Defence notified bidders of its intention to purchase an interim anti-ship missile as current Harpoon stocks reach end of life and a replacement not being due until 2030.
The Ministry of Defence issued a Prior Information Notice (PIN) for a “Next Generation Surface Ship Guided Weapon (SSGW)” to equip Royal Navy vessels. The notice is as follows:
“Short description of nature and scope of works or nature and quantity or value of supplies or services:
The Authority has a possible future requirement to procure a next generation ship launched anti-ship weapon system for use within training and operational roles with the Royal Navy. First delivery of the ship installed equipment would be required by December 2022 and first delivery of missiles would be required by December 2023. The potential contract will be for 4 years, with the potential of option years to follow (up to 9 more years), the potential contract would cover the following activities:
Manufacture and delivery of the weapon system to be delivered in Financial Year 2023/2024.
Installation of the weapon system onto Royal Navy ships. Provision and support of interface requirements to assist ships installation. Provision of train the trainer courses. Maintenance and technical support for the operational upkeep of the weapon system. Should this requirement proceed, a Contract Notice will be published in due course with more precise requirements and interested parties will be invited to complete an online pre-qualification questionnaire, which will be measured against selected criteria in terms of commercial and technical requirements.
The technical requirement will be base lined against the user requirements and include questions regarding:
— battlefield effect,
— terminal effect,
— interoperability: climatic and environment,
— munition sensitivity,
— system and design safety,
— human factors,
— sustainability and supply chain,
— Capability resilience and reliability.
Evidence will be required at the PQQ stage to demonstrate the weapon system can meet the Authority’s requirement set. Estimated value excluding VAT: Range: between 100 000 000 and 200 000 000 GBP”
When Harpoon exits service in 2023 there will be a serious capability gap until the potential entry into service of FC/ASW programme in 2030 if the ‘interim’ missile project does not happen, warned a report published by the Defence Committee.
What is the Future Cruise /Anti–Ship Weapon?
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.
Last year we reported that two years into the FC/ASW (Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon) Concept Phase, MBDA announced the successful achievement of its ‘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 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.”
It was also stated recently by Quin that the total spend to date on Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon and associated activities by the Ministry of Defence is £95 million.
What are the options?
NavyLookout has the answer to that question here, we recommend you read their article on this.