The Royal Navy will lose its anti-ship missile capability in 2018 when the Harpoon missile is withdrawn.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 describe 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 this morning ‘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.”
The Harpoon was developed and manufactured by McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing Defense, Space & Security). In 2004, Boeing delivered the 7,000th Harpoon unit since the weapon’s introduction in 1977. The Harpoon uses active radar homing, and a low-level, sea-skimming cruise trajectory to improve survivability and lethality.