US submarines
- America, Naval Power

After 25 years US submarine will receive anti-ship missiles


Armaments will be expanded due to the threat of the Chinese and Russian navies.

25 years ago, American submarines lost their UGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile. The naval commanders considered that there was no worthy opponent for such a missile. Today, the US Navy decided to return anti-ship missiles to submarines, according to the Breaking Defense portal.

Loading the Harpoon anti-ship missile into the USS Asheville submarine during the 2020
Loading the Harpoon anti-ship missile into the USS Asheville submarine during the 2020 

At the end of January, Boeing was awarded a $ 10 million contract. The contractor is committed to supply Harpoon missiles for Los Angeles-class multipurpose submarines this year. The return process of UGM-84 kicked off in 2019, when Boeing specialists performed routine maintenance and modernization of 79 UGM-84 missiles. Prior to this, the USS Olympia submarine hit a training target with a Harpoon missile during the RIMPAC 2018 exercise.

It is not yet known how many missiles the fleet will receive in 2021. It is believed that their number will exceed the 2019 contract, due to plans to equip UGM-84 submarines of the Seawolf and Virginia classes.

These efforts were part of the plans of the Pentagon, whose specialists are concerned about the growing power of the armed forces of Russia and China. The return of old missiles continues the strategy of former US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, who implemented a strategy of repurposing existing and obsolete weapons to counter new threats.

In addition to missiles, the US fleet will expand by 21 submarines. For this, General Dynamics Electric Boat is expanding its staff by a quarter.

As a reminder, the Harpoon anti-ship missile was put into service in 1977. The McDonnell Douglas development is available in three versions – for surface (RGM-84), underwater (UGM-84), and aviation (AGM-84) basing. Since 1997, the submarines have lost their Harpoon missiles. At the moment, the most advanced missile modification is the RGM-84 Harpoon Block II + ER, presented in 2015. The missile’s range was increased to 310 km, and the standard warhead was replaced by a lightweight version of increased power.


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[…] Currently the main strentgh of China against US aircraft carriers in the South China Sea are China’s “DF-21D” anti-ship ballistic missiles and “DF-26” anti-ship ballistic missiles. Of course, the U.S. Navy thinks so too, so it has also begun to study countermeasures against China’s anti-ship ballistic missiles. For example, according to a report in the American “Modern Diplomacy” magazine, the U.S. Navy had deployed a “Los Angeles”-class cruise missile nuclear submarine capable of carrying 154 submarine-launched “Tomahawk” cruise missiles in the South China Sea. Countering China’s anti-ship ballistic missiles. And recently after 25 years US navy started to equipped their submarines with cruise  missile. […]