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Royal Navy Ditching the Harpoon

Wednesday, November 16, 2016 11:48
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HMS Iron Duke firing a Harpoon missile

HMS Iron Duke firing a Harpoon missile

In 2018 the British Royal Navy will retire the anti-ship Harpoon missile from all its frigates and destroyers. No replacement missile is planned. This will put said naval vessels on par with the Royal Air Force which has for some time had no anti-ship missiles. In addition, Royal Naval helicopters are losing the anti-ship Sea Skua missile in 2017. The replacement Sea Venom missile will not be put in service until late 2020. The Telegraph News Article

The motivation for the Britain neutering its navy – to save money.

Said one Naval sources:

“We will be losing our missile capability in total for two years. We will still have the gun, but the range of that is about 17 miles, compared to [the] Harpoon, which is about 80 miles”.

Another Naval source said the decision is:

“like Nelson deciding to get rid of his cannons and go back to muskets” and one senior former officer said warships would “no longer be able to go toe-to-toe with the Chinese or Russians”.

This is unbelievable. But try as I might, I found no indication that this article was from The Onion. Pretty much, if anyone wants to take out the British surface navy from 2018 onward, have at it. Because this move makes it essentially defenseless.

But wait … there’s more. In late breaking news, the British Minister of Finance has announced that as a cost cutting measure to save on fuel oil costs, the British Royal Navy will be reverting to sail power.

Well … that last isn’t true. But heck, it sure could be, as it makes as much sense as getting rid of anti-ship missiles.


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  • DK

    The Harpoon is a subsonic relatively small warhead missile – by and large outdated but for opponents with pre 2000 equipment. Fraid the Russians have the ships of the line with Mach 5 missiles which vastly out range ours. We have to wait for mass Laser production for something with a chance today of defending against the new threats, and sadly Harpoon is just not a threat since the first models are being fitted. Too slow, short ranged and wont even get close with an V22 fitted with a laser weapon in the outer defence perimeter. Sort of like the gap we once made with ironclads really. The worlds really moved on.

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