Navy to Shoot Extended-Range Harpoon This Year
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — The extended-range (ER) Block II+ version of Boeing’s AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship cruise missile will be fired in test shots this year, a Boeing official said.
The Block II+ER features an upgraded fuel system and a better warhead that enable it to achieve twice the range — at least 130 nautical miles — of a Block 1C version, the missile currently in the operational inventory. The upgrades fit inside the existing missile airframe, allowing the Navy to avoid the cost of more separation testing. The existing Block 1C missiles can be upgraded to the Block II+ER configuration.
Troy Rutherford, Boeing’s director of cruise missile systems, told Seapower Jan. 10 that the net-enabled Block II+ will be making its final Operational Test shots this year in preparation for deployment on the Navy’s F/A-18 and P-8A Increment III version of the Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. Initial operational capability of the Block II+ is planned for mid-year.
As a net-enabled weapon with a jam-resistant Global Positioning System capability and capacity to receive target updates in real time via Link 16, the Block II+ can be tied into the Navy Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air architecture, Rutherford said, and give the Navy more distributed lethality, one of the surface fleet’s top priorities. The all-weather radar seeker has a sensitivity 10 times that of the Block 1C
Boeing expects to offer the Block II+ER as a solution to the Navy’s Over-the-Horizon (OTH) requirement for a cruise missile for the littoral combat ship and the follow-on frigate.
“We’re at a cost advantage,” Rutherford said, noting the fleet’s familiarity with the Harpoon and is launch system and the integration with platforms that already has occurred with the Harpoon program.
The Navy plans to order 340 OTH missiles of the winning design, with deliveries beginning two years after contract award. Rutherford noted that on the surface side, there is no requirement for a net-enabled missile, but the Harpoon Block II+ER will have it anyway.
Rutherford said there is a lot of interest in the extended-range capability from foreign nations that already deploy the Harpoon.