Boeing has been awarded a combined $3.1 billion in contracts for Harpoon and Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM ER) weapon systems for Saudi Arabia.

The firm say that about $2.6 billion of that was contracted today while the remainder had been previously awarded.

“We are pleased to continue our long legacy of partnering with the Navy to build weapons that defend America and its international partners,” said Cindy Gruensfelder, vice president, Boeing Weapons.

“These awards will not only extend production of the Harpoon program through 2026, they will also restart the production line for SLAM ER and ensure deliveries through 2028.”

Boeing say it last delivered the SLAM ER weapon system in 2008. In October 2019, the firm began construction on a new 35,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility to support increased production for the Harpoon and SLAM ER programs.

Construction is expected to be complete in 2021.

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Someone please help me out here. The MoD and RN both say Harpoon is coming to the end of its life yet Saudi Arabia has just ordered some new ones. Are these a diffrent model if so can the RN Harpoon be upgraded. Even if the cost of the upgrage is 30-50 % of a new missile that would be still a good deal.


I think one of the big issues with Harpoon is the range, which isn’t really a factor in the bathtub that is the Gulf. It also depends on what you want to target. For an small patrol boat harpoon probably still works just fine, if it’s an Frigate with more substantial anti missile systems you could run into trouble.

Mike Saul

Although the airframe of the missile is basically the same each new block of the missile is essentially a new missile with greatly enhanced capability.

The UK uses block 1 missiles from the 1980s.

The latest missiles are block 2+ or block 3.

Although the older missiles can be upgraded to some extend they cannot have the same capability as the latest missiles.

We would need to scrap our block 1 and replace them with block 3 missiles which would incur cost.


It’s all about money! The RN probably know they will never use the harpoon anyway so why upgrade it.

Geoffrey Roach

Sorry Cam but if that is the reasoning we might as well not build anything as we never hope to use any of it.

Nigel Collins

More information can be found via the attached link. “Harpoon Block II+ On 18 November 2015, the U.S. Navy tested the AGM-84N Harpoon Block II+ missile against a moving ship target. The Block II+ incorporates an improved GPS guidance kit and a net-enabled data-link that allows the missile to receive in-flight targeting updates. The Block II+ is planned to enter service in 2017.[8] The USN intends to deploy the Harpoon Block II+ in late FY2018[9] by upgrading its existing inventory of Harpoon IC missiles.[10] Harpoon Block III Harpoon Block III was intended to be an upgrade package to the existing… Read more »


Still radar guided though!


I thought these kinds of deals are all about funneling money to us defence contractors from regimes to ensure American protection?

I just always assumed these were bribes, dressed up to look like weapons sales.


Old Harpoons can be upgraded at a cost,something like 60_70%of a new one,the range can be doubled with a smaller warhead and new engine but its still behind the capability of newer designs.


True, some of the newer designs look like they could be game changers, I for one look forward to Perseus. From my understanding the US Navy is upgrading the block 1C to II+ for a cost of about £500,000 per missile, I’m not sure how many the RN has but if they were to upgrade 100 missiles to get a further 10-15 years out of them that would be money well spent. Any new missile that the RN gets could go to the T26 as it needs to be intergrated to the system whereas the BlockII+ could go to the… Read more »


It’s for the SLAM-ER, not the Harpoon.


There are Harpoon upgrades mixed in as well.

But even Saudi doesn’t have 1000 Harpoon….most of these are precision strike missiles.

Sceptical Richard

Exactly. These are precision strike land attack missiles. What does Saudi get? Saudi keeps Boeing and BAE Systems going and ensures that both the US and UK keep a presence in the region. What does US get? US keeps Saudi on side against Iran and stops it from thinking of doing anything against Israel.


I would like to see RAF P-8 get a few SLAM-ER while the production line is open.


Definitely, and the P8s look badass with 4 harpoons on the wing pylons, they mean business then, we have to have more that just sonar buoys and surveillance! We have to have offensive weapons.


The U.S. are going to integrate much more modern weapons than this on P8, this is an old low capability missile.


I know, my point was missiles look badass on the wings of the p8


Looks can be deceiving ,I doubt this old weapon can breach the defence of a Russian surface ship better to wait for some LRASM’s


Annoyingly SLAM-ER+, in a proposed even further upgraded version, lost the competition that led to Storm Shadow…it didn’t come close to spec.

And we were going to have 4 Storm Shadow on Nimrod MRA.4…

Back to the Future…

Rob Young

P8 is not supposed to get into a combat situation. It’s too valuable. Defensive weapons, yes, but if it ever gets into a combat situation then everyone around it has failed!

Sceptical Richard

Stand-off Land Attack Missile Extended Range. That’s what SLAM-ER stands for. Why would the P-8 want to attack land targets?


Same reason we were looking to add Storm Shadow to Nimrod MRA.4. The more missiles you can launch in the early part of a conflict the better, MPA also have very long range so can in effect operate as bomb trucks. With the advent of precision stand off munitions it gives them a useful capability. SLAM-ER has an E/O capability so attacking targets in a littoral environment is a whole lot easier as well as having the ability to abort a strike if necessary. But we shouldn’t forget that SLAM was first used in 1991. It’s an old system. A… Read more »


SLAM,ER what a great name.


Looks like Saudi Arabia will be busy this decade.


I guess they really like the Slammer.

Mr Me

Still too slow and too easily detected by radar. We couldn’t fire enough of these things to penetrate a capable defence system.
Radar guided too which can be interfered with too easily I would expect.


The RN version of Harpoon is coming to the end of its life. Component obsolescence in the Ship board consoles and missile control cabinets, in the missiles them selves and boost motor Lifex are the main contributors.Another factor is its a really, really dumb missile ( thicker than a PTI at a spelling test dumb!). Look what happened to the Iranians recently when they fired a dumb radar guided weapon and it ignored the target they where aiming at and hit the target towing/Laying range boat. Without a data link that’s it. You fire it and off it goes .… Read more »


The RN concluded years ago that Harpoon and Sub-Harpoon were useless in anything other than a WW3 situation as there was no way they would ever be able to use the missile due to ROE, for the reasons you’ve mentioned. Hence why they were so keen to get Sea Venom on Wildcat to replace the 40 year old Sea Skua (a tiny portion of the money used to develop and buy Sea Venom could have re-lifed a large part of the Harpoon 1C stockpile). Sea Skua and now Sea Venom were an anti-ship missile that you could use with restrictive… Read more »

Sceptical Richard

Hear hear!


Skua was a joy to work on. You needed to do very little with it. Just load it, put on the wings, fly it and shoot it.
Some of the ones I looked after where part of the “one of the most successful asm” tag!


Try getting the warhead out with the 1950s version of locktite. No maintenance required, as it’s much easier for skates to use a hammer to make a big dent in the side and send it back to BAE.


They are tripling VAT in the same week they announce this massive missile purchase. Strange.


Doesn’t make much difference this week. They are locked down and it will be a 24hr, 5 day lockdown over Eid. No spending in the shops!


Pretty simple, all the money has been spent on 2 big empty steel boxes.


That should put the wind up the Houthis…