ARLINGTON, Va. — Boeing has begun work to return the Harpoon cruise missile to operational status in the U.S. Navy’s submarine force after a more than 20-year absence.
Boeing received an $10.9 million Naval Sea Systems Command contract late last month to refurbish 16 Harpoon missile capsules and four all-up rounds of encapsulated Block 1C Harpoon missiles for the Navy’s submarines. Work is scheduled for completion by December 2022.
The UGM-84A Harpoon Block 1C missiles will be integrated on the Navy’s Los Angeles-class submarines. The UGM-84A is encapsulated to be fired from a torpedo tube and has a rocket booster to propel it above the surface of the water and into flight.
“I am happy to report that we will have the first refurbished [Harpoon] missiles delivered to the fleet in [fiscal] ‘21,” said Rear Adm. Thomas Ishee, director of undersea warfare in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, speaking Nov. 7 at the Naval Submarine League’s annual symposium in Arlington.
In a demonstration in the 2018 Rim of the Pacific exercise, a Harpoon was fired from the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Olympia at a target ship, the first time one was fired from a U.S. Navy submarine since the UGM-84A Harpoons were withdrawn from the force in 1997.
The UGM-84A is encapsulated to be fired from a torpedo tube and has a rocket booster to propel it above the surface of the water and into flight.
“The Navy has a deep inventory of Harpoon Block IC missiles,” said Sally Seibert, director, Cruise Missile Systems at Boeing, in a statement. “These missiles can be refurbished and reintegrated into the fleet in a shorter timeframe, and at a fraction of the cost, compared to purchasing new missiles — and that is exactly what our team is doing.”
The Harpoon cruise missile is a combat-proven, all-domain anti-ship missile used by the Navy and more than 30 international customers, a statement from Boeing said. “Evolving over the years to keep pace with emerging threats, the Harpoon Block II includes a GPS-aided guidance system that allows for autonomous, all-weather capability — and can execute both anti-ship and land-strike missions. The more advanced Harpoon Block II+ adds a data link that allows for in-flight targeting updates.”
“The shelf life of the Harpoon missile allows us to maximize existing capability by bringing this weapon back to the submarine fleet,” Seibert said. “Customers who currently have Harpoon missiles in their inventory are prime candidates for refurbishments, or even upgrades, to add this extremely viable and cost-effective weapon to their arsenal.”
Currently, more than 600 ships, 180 submarines, 12 different types of aircraft and several land-based launch vehicles across the world are integrated with Harpoon missiles, Boeing said.