MILAN — Spanish officials have confirmed that missile maker Kongsberg will begin deliveries of its fifth-generation Naval Strike Missiles, set to equip the Spanish Navy’s F-100 and F-110 frigates, in 2027, three years prior to the planned retirement of the fleet’s Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
“The estimated date of receipt of the first NSM will coincide with the entry into service of the first F-110 frigate,” Capt. Alfonso Carrasco Santos, who works on then Spanish naval capabilities planning staff, told Defense News in an email. Local shipbuilder Navantia is expected to deliver the first ship in 2027.
Carrasco Santos added that the Harpoons will remain in service until the complete delivery of the NSM weapons. He did not disclose the exact number of missiles to be acquired, saying only that the amount “will be necessary to satisfy our strategic needs.”
The new missile type is designed to destroy sea and land targets at distances over 115 miles, which exceeds the Harpoon range by roughly one-third. It flies just above water level to evade defenses and relies on inertial, GPS and terrain-reference navigation as well as imaging infrared homing.
There has been little to no confirmed information regarding the value of contracts and the overall number of Harpoons Spain has bought over the years, making it difficult to shed light on how many will need to be replaced.
Industry sources have estimated that the country would have purchased at least around several dozen, more or less 36 Harpoons, each valued at over $1 million.
Harpoon missiles were first fitted on the F-30 series of Descubierta-class corvettes built for the Spanish Navy in the late 1970s. They also equip the F-100 Álvaro de Bazán-class frigates, which have two four-celled anti-ship missiles, and the F-80 Santa María-class frigates, which feature a single-armed Mk13 missile launcher able to hold eight Harpoon missiles.
The Harpoon missiles are also operated by the Spanish Air Force in their F-18 Hornets, in the AGM-84 variant for aircraft. In air-to-surface operations, once launched, the weapon flies towards the target area where it connects its own search sensor, locating and destroying the target without the launcher having to act again.
Last month, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov claimed that Madrid had provided Kyiv with an undisclosed number of Harpoon missiles.
Once delivered, Madrid will become the ninth operator of the Naval Strike Missile, which outside of Norway is also in use in Poland, Germany, Canada, Australia, the United States and Romania.
Editor’s note: This story was updated on June 1 to correct the range of the Naval Strike Missile.
Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. She covers a wide range of topics related to military procurement and international security, and specializes in reporting on the aviation sector. She is based in Milan, Italy.