Royal Navy seeking interim surface to surface missiles for five Type 23 frigates

The UK defense ministry has issued a tender for the supply of an interim surface to surface guided weapon system (I-SSGW) that would serve to bridge the capability gap once the Harpoon missile is retired and the future cruise/anti-ship weapon (FC/ASW) missile becomes ready for operations sometime in the 2030s.

The ministry first released a “prior information notice” for the replacement system in March 2019, seeking a ship launched anti-ship weapon system for use “within training and operational roles with the Royal Navy.”

First delivery of equipment would be required by December 2022 while the first missiles would be required a year later.

The ministry’s defence equipment and support (DE&S) office has now released more info on the potential buy, stating that the missile system would be fitted to five Type 23 frigates.

According to the DE&S, the I-SSGW is to provide a ship launched over the horizon precision anti-ship capability and a terrain following precision maritime land attack capability.

It was further noted that the interim missiles would be operational for a period of ten years following installation.

The service life of the Harpoon missile currently in use on the frigates was extended until 2023 to shorten the capability gap created by the missile’s withdrawal from service.

As previously pointed out, and endorsed by the UK Parliament in a report on the (FC/ASW) program, the potential contenders for the interim missile solution could be the¬†Lockheed Martin-developed Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM), the Kongsberg-developed Naval Strike Missile and Saab’s RBS15 missile.

Photo: Raytheon photo of the NSM, a possible contender for the I-SSGW solution.