Royal Navy ships will lose anti-ship missile capability in 2018 when the Harpoon missile is withdrawn, with a replacement not due until ‘around 2030’.
While the Royal Navy will still have an anti-ship capability via the submarine fleet and embarked helicopters, this will still be a significant capability gap and even then, no Royal Navy helicopters will have anti-ship missile capabilities until 2020.
As we reported last year, Harriett Baldwin and her French counterpart signed an agreement to explore future long-range weapons for the Royal and French Navies and Air Forces with the aim of replacing the Harpoon anti-ship missile and the Storm Shadow cruise missile as well as an array of French weapon types.
French arms procurement chief Collet-Billon said last year at the meeting: “We are launching today a major new phase in our bilateral cooperation, by planning together a generation of missiles, successor to the Harpoon, SCALP and Storm Shadow.
The FC/ASW (future cruise/anti-ship weapon) programme’s aim is to have by around 2030 a new generation of missiles.”
The missiles however will not be ready to replace Harpoon until 2030, leaving the Type 26 Frigates without any real means to engage surface warships aside from their helicopters.
According to the Telegraph, Rear-Admiral Chris Parry said about the issue: “It’s a significant capability gap and the Government is being irresponsible. It just shows that our warships are for the shop window and not for fighting.” (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the UK Defence Journal website.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Whether by short-sightedness or gambling with the defense of the kingdom, successive British governments continue to do away with naval capabilities to save money.
In the past decade or so, the Royal Navy has seen its Harrier naval fighters retired, its aircraft carriers paid off, and its Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft program axed, all to save money.
This has led to the loss of its fixed-wing aviation, its aircraft carriers and its maritime patrol capabilities as well as over half of its fleet of frigates and destroyers.
Leaving its frigates and destroyers without an anti-ship missile of their own, and thus forced to rely on short-range helicopter-launched missiles, is a dangerous loss of capability that their single gun will be unable to compensate.
In addition, it is replacing combat-capable frigates by OPVs and the future Type 31 frigate, which promises to be little more than a glorified OPV.
Once again, a British government is gambling that the Royal Navy, which it continues to send in harm’s way, will not be involved in combat.
A dangerous gamble, as the Falklands War amply demonstrated.)