Munitions / Surface to surface missiles / Harpoon

Harpoon

General Facts

  • TYPE
    Anti-ship missile

  • ORIGIN
    United States

  • NICKNAMES
    GWS-60 (UK designation for UGM-84B)

  • DESIGNED
    1968 - 1974

  • DESIGNER
    McDonnell Douglas

  • PRODUCTION
    1975 - present

  • PRODUCERS
    United States - McDonnell Douglas (now part of Boeing)

  • QUANTITY
    Over 7.000 Harpoon
    Over 1.000 SLAM

  • UNIT COST
    $ 1.2 million for Block 2 in 2009

  • CHARACTERISTICS
    Limited production costs
    Wide variety of launch platforms
    Subsonic
    Average range at current standards

Introduction

The Harpoon is an anti-ship missile of US origin. It was developed in the early 1970's as armament for aircraft, but by adding a booster section it eventually became more prominent as a surface to surface missile for ships and submarines. The Harpoon can be considered the main anti-shipping missile of the Western nations, even though Exocet, Otomat and RBS-15 are widely used as well. The Harpoon is the main anti-ship armament of many NATO frigates and destroyers.

Layout

The Harpoon has a long cylindrical body and a pointed nose. In the middle there are four cruciform wings and four smaller control fins are located at the rear. The first quarter of the missile is the guidance section including radar, inertial navigation and associated electronics. The second quarter is the high explosive warhead which is to penetrate the hull and detonate inside the target vessel. The second half of the missile is the solid fuel sustainer rocket motor. In the surface launched models an additional solid fuel booster section is added at the rear which burns for about 3 seconds and provides initial velocity.

Guidance

The Harpoon uses active radar homing to detect and track enemy vessels. Inertial navigation is used until the missile reaches the target area. Over time the guidance has been improved by adding a re-attack capability, GPS aided inertial navigation and a two way data link in the latest versions. The Harpoon also possesses a very limited land attack capability. The SLAM land attack derivatives use imaging infrared guidance combined with a data link. Over its lifetime the Harpoon has proven to have a success rate of over 90 percent.

Firepower

The Harpoon is a subsonic anti-ship missile that travels at Mach 0.9. Early models performed a pop up attack but subsequent versions are sea skimming missiles. The 220 kg warhead will destroy most frigates and destroyers. Larger vessels may require multiple hits. The effective range for most models is 130 km. Due the inherent air speed and gravity induced velocity the air launched models have a much longer effective range. The SLAM-ER

Platform

The air launched Harpoons are carried on external stores mounts of fixed wing aircraft. Aircraft that may launch the Harpoon include the P-3 Orion, S-3 Viking, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F/A-18 Hornet and the B-52 Stratofortress. On ships the quad pack Mk 141 launcher is the most common launcher. Usually a pair of Mk 141 launchers is used with one facing port and the other starboard. The Mk 112 ASROC launcher, Mk 13 and Mk 22 single arm launchers and Mk 11 twin arm launcher are used as well. The submarine launched models are fitted in a capsule with the size of a 533mm torpedo and is launched from the torpedo tubes. A small number of Harpoons is in use on coastal defense systems.

Users

The main user of the Harpoon is the US Navy which uses all types including the SLAM models. Many Harpoon missiles are in use with NATO nations and other US allies. Production for the United States has ceased although upgrades programs are still continuing. The production for export continues and the SLAM-ER remains in production as well.

Variants

AGM-84 Harpoon

The air launched versions of the Harpoon all have the designation AGM-84. The Harpoon can be carried by a wide range of fixed wing aircraft ranging from low speed maritime patrol aircraft such as the P-3 Orion to supersonic fighter aircraft like the F/A-18 Hornet. Unlike the surface vessel and submarine launched versions the air launched versions are not fitted with a booster section. A booster isn't required due to the air speed during release and gravity . Over time the capabilities have been improved which results in wide range of models.

AGM-84A: Original air launched version of the Harpoon.
AGM-84C: Harpoon Block 1B upgrade introduced in 1982 that replaces the pop up flight profile with a sea skimming one.
AGM-84D: Harpoon Block 1C upgrade introduced in 1985 with increased range, selectable pop up or sea skimming mode, ECCM improvements and plottable waypoints.
AGM-84F: Harpoon Block 1D upgrade introduced in 1991 with more fuel resulting in longer body and increased range. Also as a re-attack capability. Few produced since program was cancelled in 1993.
AGM-84G: Harpoon Block 1E conversion of Block 1C with improved ECCM capabilities and Block 1D re-attack capability.
AGM-84L: Harpoon Block 2 upgrade of Block 1E with GPS aided inertial navigation and improved hardware.
AGM-84M: Harpoon Block 3 upgrade with GPS aided inertial navigation and two way data link.

TypeAnti-ship missile
Diameter0.343 m body, 0.9 m wingspan
Length3.85 m
Weight519 kg
GuidanceActive radar homing
Warhead221 kg WDU-18/B penetrating HE-frag
PropulsionTeledyne J402-CA-400 turbojet
SpeedMach 0.9
Range185 km
Altitude-
Engagement envelope-
Remarks-
TypeAnti-ship missile
Diameter0.343 m body, 0.9 m wingspan
Length3.85 m
Weight540 kg
GuidanceActive radar homing
Warhead221 kg WDU-18/B penetrating HE-frag
PropulsionTeledyne J402-CA-400 turbojet
SpeedMach 0.9
Range220 km
Altitude-
Engagement envelope-
Remarks-
TypeAnti-ship missile
Diameter0.343 m body, 0.9 m wingspan
Length4.44 m
Weight635 kg
GuidanceActive radar homing
Warhead221 kg WDU-18/B penetrating HE-frag
PropulsionTeledyne J402-CA-400 turbojet
SpeedMach 0.9
Range315 km
Altitude-
Engagement envelope-
Remarks-

RGM-84 Harpoon

The surface launched versions of the Harpoon are designated RGM-84. They are mainly launched from surface vessesl although a few coastal defense systems are in use as well. Apart from adding a booster section which increases initial velocity during launch the surface launched versions of the Harpoon are similar to the air launched versions.

RGM-84A: Original surface vessel launched version of the Harpoon.
RGM-84C: Harpoon Block 1B upgrade introduced in 1982 that replaces the pop up flight profile with a sea skimming one.
RGM-84D: Harpoon Block 1C upgrade introduced in 1985 with increased range, selectable pop up or sea skimming mode, ECCM improvements and plottable waypoints.
RGM-84F: Harpoon Block 1D upgrade introduced in 1991 with more fuel resulting in longer body and increased range. Also as a re-attack capability. Few produced since programme was cancelled in 1993.
RGM-84G: Harpoon Block 1E conversion of Block 1C with improved ECCM capabilities and Block 1D re-attack capability.
RGM-84L: Harpoon Block 2 upgrade of Block 1E with GPS aided inertial navigation and improved hardware.
RGM-84M: Harpoon Block 3 upgrade with GPS aided inertial navigation and two way data link.

TypeAnti-ship missile
Diameter0.343 m body, 0.9 m wingspan
Length4.63 m
Weight682 kg
GuidanceActive radar homing
Warhead221 kg WDU-18/B penetrating HE-frag
PropulsionTeledyne J402-CA-400 turbojet plus solid fuel rocket booster
SpeedMach 0.9
Range130 km
Altitude-
Engagement envelope-
Remarks-
TypeAnti-ship missile
Diameter0.343 m body, 0.9 m wingspan
Length4.63 m
Weight690 kg
GuidanceActive radar homing
Warhead221 kg WDU-18/B penetrating HE-frag
PropulsionTeledyne J402-CA-400 turbojet plus solid fuel rocket booster
SpeedMach 0.9
Range150 km
Altitude-
Engagement envelope-
Remarks-
TypeAnti-ship missile
Diameter0.343 m body, 0.9 m wingspan
Length5.28 m
Weight785 kg
GuidanceActive radar homing
Warhead221 kg WDU-18/B penetrating HE-frag
PropulsionTeledyne J402-CA-400 turbojet plus solid fuel rocket booster
SpeedMach 0.9
Range220 km
Altitude-
Engagement envelope-
Remarks-

UGM-84 Sub Harpoon

Unlike most anti ship missiles the Harpoon can also be launched from submarines. These models are designated UGM-84. They are launched from a 533mm torpedo tube and float to the surface in a special canister. Once the canister breaks the surface the top cover is removed and the booster section that is also used on the surface launched model is fired. Many surface launched models have a submarine launched counterpart.

UGM-84A: Original submarine launched version of the Harpoon.
UGM-84B: UK version with lower attack profile.
UGM-84C: Harpoon Block 1B upgrade introduced in 1982 that replaces the pop up flight profile with a sea skimming one.
UGM-84D: Harpoon Block 1C upgrade introduced in 1985 with increased range, selectable pop up or sea skimming mode, ECCM improvements and plottable waypoints.
UGM-84G: Harpoon Block 1E conversion of Block 1C with improved ECCM capabilities and Block 1D re-attack capability.

AGM-84 SLAM

The SLAM is a land attack version of the Harpoon missile introduced in 1988. The name SLAM stands for Stand-off Land Attack Missile. The SLAM is a Harpoon with a imaging infrared guidance section used on the AGM-65D Maverick and the data link of the AGM-62 Walleye. The SLAM flies inertially to its target and is manually controlled for the last 60 seconds.

AGM-84E SLAM: The SLAM version of the Harpoon only exist in air launched form and is also known as the Harpoon Block 1E.

TypeAir to ground missile
Diameter0.343 m body, 0.9 m wingspan
Length4.50 m
Weight627 kg
GuidanceInertial guidance towards target area, imaging infrared terminal mode
Warhead221 kg WDU-18/B penetrating HE-frag
PropulsionTeledyne J402-CA-400 turbojet
SpeedMach 0.9
Range93 km
Altitude-
Engagement envelope-
Remarks-

AGM-84 SLAM-ER

The SLAM Expanded Response is a much improved version of the original SLAM. It uses pop-out wings for increased range and maneuvrability, has a better data link, has a larger warhead and uses a new guidance section. The guidance section adds GPS guidance over the inertial guidance and the
AGM-84H SLAM-ER: Original version of the SLAM-ER.
AGM-84K SLAM-ER: SLAM-ER with internal improvements.

TypeAir to ground missile
Diameter0.343 m body, 2.43 m wingspan
Length4.37 m
Weight725 kg
GuidanceGPS assisted inertial guidance towards target area, imaging infrared terminal mode
Warhead360 kg WDU-40/B penetrating HE-frag
PropulsionTeledyne J402-CA-400 turbojet
SpeedMach 0.9
Range280 km
Altitude-
Engagement envelope-
Remarks-

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