LONDON — Britain’s Royal Navy is to be equipped with a new long-range precision strike missile in an agreement announced Nov 22 with the Norwegian Government.
Eleven frigates and destroyers are to be equipped with the Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace built Naval Strike Missile.
The first three warships are being rapidly modified to accept the weapon with the first ready for operation in a little over 12 months the U.K. Ministry of Defence said in a statement.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace revealed the deal during a visit of the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to Norway this week.
The surface-to-surface strike weapon is being rushed into service in time to meet next year’s pensioning off of the Harpoon missile originally built by McDonnell Douglas before the company was acquired by Boeing.
Harpoon had been earmarked to go out of service in 2018 but the move was put back to 2023.
In November last year the British cancelled plans to introduce an interim capability a move which would have left the Navy surfacefleet without a strike missile for at least five years. That plan , was officially abandoned with the interim surface-to-surface guided weapon program resurrected earlier this year.
“This is a significant task with an ambitious timeline,” Norwegian Minister of Defence Bjørn Arild Gram, said. “Both nations have established a designated team with a strong mandate to ensure the success of this common effort.”
The Norwegian weapon, purchased by a host of nation including the US, plugs the gap between the exit from service of Harpoon and the introduction of a future offensive surface weapon.
The Naval Strike Missile will provide the Royal Navy with long-range strike capabilities against surface ship and land targets until theintroduction of its permanent successor, the ‘future offensive surface weapon’, being developed in a joint deal between the UK and France.
The Royal Navy’s next generation anti-ship missile is scheduled in service in 2028 onboard Type 26 anti-submarine warfare frigates, the first three of which are under construction by BAE Systems shipyards on the Clyde, Scotland.
BAE along with Britain’s other main warship build Babcock, supported by Kongsberg, will be leading the effort integrating the Norwegian missile to the Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers.
Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.