After 2018, Britain’s Royal Navy Will No Longer Use Harpoon Missiles

Richmond launching an AGM-84 Harpoon missile
Richmond launching an AGM-84 Harpoon missile

British frigates and destroyers will lose their aging Harpoon anti-ship missiles after 2018. The lightweight Sea Venom will become the replacement, but not coming into service until 2020.

The UK Ministry of Defense has also decided the Navy’s Lynx Wildcat helicopters will lose their anti-ship missiles in 2017. They, too, will not have a replacement until 2020.

The Venom carries a 30kg warhead designed to be effective against smaller targets such as corvettes and smaller, with restricted accuracy against bigger ships.

Specialists expect the Sea Venom’s effective range will be approximately 15 to 40 nautical miles.

Without the Harpoon, which has been used since 1984, the Royal Navy’s armament is the 4.5 inch, Mk8 deck gun which can achieve an approximate 17nm range, The Maritime Executive reported.

The decision comes not long after the U.S. Navy said it will not purchase ammunition for the exact targeting Advanced Gun System, the self-loading 155 mm deck gun on the new Zumwalt class destroyers. When the Navy cut its ammunition order, the cost per round rose to $800,000.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE