Home » Aviation » Boeing Takes Harpoon Out Of LCS/Frigate Over-the- Horizon Missile Competition


Boeing Takes Harpoon Out Of LCS/Frigate Over-the- Horizon Missile Competition

An artist’s representation of a Harpoon Anti-Ship Missile. Boeing Image

Boeing is no longer offering an upgraded variant of its RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship cruise missile as part of a competition to field an over-the-horizon anti-ship missile for the frigate and the Littoral Combat Ship, a company official told USNI News on Tuesday.

“We’ve really taken a hard look at what the requirements are that [Naval Sea System Command] has looked for in the request. We’ve kept up to speed on every [request for proposal] modification and with that the constant change in the top-level requirements every time they do a modified release,” Troy Rutherford, director of Boeing Cruise Missile Systems told USNI News on Tuesday.
“We don’t see that this solicitation isn’t the right place for us to make entrée into the surface Navy because of how it undervalues our overall capability.”

The company had initially pitched a version of the weapon that would add a new warhead and a reconstituted engine for a range of more than 130 nautical miles — up from the about 70 nautical mile range of the current Block II weapons — in a Harpoon Next Generation configuration.

Boeing leaving the competition leaves Lockheed Martin’s Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) and a Raytheon-Kongsberg partnership for the Naval Strike Missile as the two likely candidates for the OTH missile.

The NSM is in service in the Norwegian Navy while the LRASM – a modified version of the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – was developed as part of an urgent operational need for U.S. Pacific Command for a modern air launched anti-ship cruise missile.

For its part, Boeing said it planned to continue to develop the modified version of the 40-year-old weapon.

“We see a market there for not only domestically but also for our international allies,” Rutherford said.
“We will double the current production program by the 2020s. With extended range we will production program well into the ‘30s.”
 

  • Bud W

    Littoral ship is a waste

    • Angry bird

      I like the freedom class. For the use it is intended for and that it will have the right weapons to fight with.

    • Duane

      No – not in the least.

      It’s the most capable and lethal littoral combat ship in the world, nothing else is close in capability. That’s why the Navy loves it, and is going to fully build out the class as currently planned (40 ships). The long-delayed FY-2017 DAA is adding three more LCS.

      • NavySubNuke

        – “the most capable and lethal littoral combat ship in the world” — nice half truth. It is only the most capable and lethal because no other nation is wasting money on a “littoral combat ship” — it is easy to come in first place when you are the only one running the race. And please spare me another round of you talking about how awesome LCS will be in just a few more years for just a few hundred more million.
        – “the Navy loves it”. Nice half truth – certainly the public is led to believe the Navy loves it but you that is what you expect to hear. If you talk to anyone actually in the Navy, and by that I mean actual sailors in an environment where they can talk freely not just listening to PAO led interviews – you would find the “love” isn’t quite so strong as you and the other cheerleaders would lead folks to believe
        – “fully build out the class as CURRENTLY planned (40 ships)” — nice half truth there since there were originally more than 40, just as there were originally more than 3 mission modules
        – “adding three more LCS” —- again nice half truth there, it is actually only adding 1 new LCS as 2 others were already included. A great example of how a little pork goes a long way – by wasting $400M on another Little Crappy Ship the Navy was also able to get an extra $3+B to buy an additional DDG and LPD out of congress which is not a bad haul at all.
        It is rather telling that they only way you can talk about how “awesome” the LCS is is by telling what are at best half truths about it.
        I’m still curious Duane, since you always dodge the question, what role did you have in the LCS program? Are you still being paid by the program? It is hard to imagine someone being as willfully ignorant about such a terrible program unless they had(have) a direct hand in it.

        • PolicyWonk

          “the most capable and lethal littoral combat ship in the world” — nice half truth.
          =================================
          Indeed – a Skjold (a vastly smaller littoral platform) could wipe either variant of LCS off the map without fear of retaliation.

          • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

            It would indeed.

            My favourite LCS is the Hamina Class from the Finish Navy.

            – Same 57mm gun
            – RBS-15 AShM’s
            – 20km SAMs
            – Depth charges and/or Mines

            Fast & stealthy, perfect for the Baltic littorals.
            For 1/6th the cost of what the US can do.

          • DaSaint

            But it can’t make it across an ocean…

          • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

            The LCS can barely make it across the Atlantic and it cannot traverse the pacific without at least two port visits or having a tanker accompanying it.

            The range is terrible, worst in class for a vessel of their size.

          • Oskar

            Says who?

          • ShermansWar

            You can bother to look up it’s basic range. He’s right. 3500 miles range, shortest endurance of any warship in the world not called a fast attack craft or a patrol boat.

          • DaSaint

            And it’s range is? Since when is the USN a coastal Navy? Everyone else gets to be, as they have no power projection desires. Our vessels, have to be self-deployable. Like it or not, and I’m not a keen fan of the LCS as configured, at least they can cross an ocean. They’re not designed to come racing out of some fjord at 40 knots with local air support.

          • PolicyWonk

            Since when is the USN a coastal navy? Seriously? How about since our independence being officially declared, and having coastal duties being imposed on it in virtually every battlespace in every conflict ever since?

            W/r/t to the Skjold – you can look it up.

          • DaSaint

            Agreed, but that wasn’t my point. Maybe I should have been clearer. What I mean is that the USN is primarily a power-projection force, taking the fight to the opposing shores and open ocean. Therefore we need larger, longer-legged vessels than for a primarily coastal defense oriented navy such as in the Baltics.
            Grant it, LCS does not have great range, but it can and has deployed to its area of operations.

          • ShermansWar

            Traditionally, when someone says ” coastal navy” , it’s understood to mean your ships are of suitable size and class to deploy of your own coasts, not someoen else. I can sail the Vinson off the coast of North Korea, but that does not make it a “coastal” vessel.

      • Bud W

        Wrong, they do not want it

  • DaSaint

    Interesting move. Either the range requirement is greater than 130 nm, or the weight requirement is much less than the current offering. LM supposedly has developed a lightweight quad-pack, similar to the Harpoon’s. If their offering is lighter, plus has a longer range and greater seeker capabilities…then the writing is on the wall. Plus the NSM is supposedly equipped with a very capable seeker. Time to move on Boeing?

    • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

      Considering the LCS’s have all the weight tolerance of a pinata I wouldn’t be surprised if that had a role to play.

    • Duane

      I think that the requirements that are problemmatic for Boeing are much more likely have to do with the required sophisticiation of onboard sensors, seekers with target differentiation capability, self defense against enemy counterfire, and the capability of semi-autonomous operation rather than with more basic considerations like range or warhead weight. The NSM has all of that today, in a highly proven package, while Boeing is still working on their 21st century upgrade to the old Harpoon design. The LRASM is already there along with the NSM, except that it is not yet adapted to fire from angled deck launchers, as is the NSM (the Navy is working on that now).

      Effectively, LRASM is more or less equivalent in terms of sophistication as a semi-autonomous ASM to an extremely long range version of the NSM (350 nm vs. about 110 nm), with a larger warhead (1,000 pounds vs. just under 300 pounds). All of that makes the LRASM a longer and much heavier weapon at about 14 feet and 2,500 pounds vs. the NSM at 13 feet and 900 pounds.

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    ““We don’t see that this solicitation isn’t the right place for us to make entrée into the surface Navy because of how it undervalues our overall capability.”

    ExecBot-2000 still needs some work on his language synthesizer

  • Marc Light

    Over the horizon AND stealth is what we need.

  • Curtis Conway

    Not an LCS fan, and believe that greater lethality on the ASuW mission make it a fatter target REQUIRING greater AAW protection given its survivability standard w/r/t watertight integrity and compartmentalization. If Boeing wanted to bring greater capability to the table, then teaming with a maker of the fast and capable BrahMos ramjet supersonic cruise missile that flies out to over 200 nm would be an outstanding option. Just a thought.

    • Michael Lopez

      Maybe they should look at the Taiwan HF-3? It has approximately the same warhead size and range, but with a top speed of mach 2.5. Which puts it into the same category as the BraMos.

    • lushr

      Unfortunately, BrahMos is a gigantic missile (6,500lbs, more than 4 times that of Harpoon), and likely has substantial Russian components. It would never physically fit, nor would it be acceptable politically. NSM or LRASM would be the best options, in my opinion.

      • Curtis Conway

        LRASM then, its stealthy. The BrahMos is one of the reasons the ESSM should be on the LCS/Frigate.

    • Duane

      The LRASM easily beats the Russian missile in range (350 nm), sophisticated multi-mode sensors, onboard ESM, warhead weight (1,000 pounds vs. 440 pounds), and semi-autonomous operations, and is already in the process of being adapted to decklaunching on the LCS.

      Typical of Russian designs, they tend to always go for high speed at the expense of every other design parameter. Hence their very fast nuke subs back in the Cold War that were noisy as heck and easily detected by our slower, quieter boats … or their super-duper hyper-fast cavitating torpedo that garners a ton of media headlines, but unfortunately and inherently cannot have any on-board target seeker that can sense through the cavitation veil, so is necessarily limited to be a point and shoot (i.e., “dumb”) weapon only.

      Today the best ASMs are not the fastest, or the biggest – the best ASMs are the smartest.

      • Curtis Conway

        A stupid missile can still kill you, particularly if it is armed with large crowd pleasers.

        • J_kies

          Introduction of ‘crowd pleasers’ is the worst thing for the US as it negates the significance of all of our conventional capabilities that are superior to all comers.

          • Curtis Conway

            And it is two of our primary potential adversaries that use them. They LIKE Megatons, not Kilotons like we use for tactical stuff. Close works for them, so if it is too big, down wind at 20 nm is still not good.

          • Oskar

            Followed by an ICBM attack…

          • Curtis Conway

            I have often thought about how to defeat a supersonic ASCM coming from an OTH position, and thought the best solution would be missiles that can talk to each other (data-link) with their own sensors (modern fixed AESA sensor). Shoot one high and one low, and the bird-dog finds the target and directs the low one to intercept, if in fact it can’t get it itself. Perhaps one high and two low across a sector. Even an ESSM might be a good development platform. The Standard Missile would be the best platform. Just a thought.

          • Oskar

            Then design one.

    • DaSaint

      Sure it’s supersonic, but is it able to defeat countermeasures? Can it be easily jammed? Does it’s target recognition work? What about the weight? Bigger and faster is not always better.

      • Curtis Conway

        I tell you what buddy-roe . . . soft-kill is great unless its been a while since it was last used (successfully), perhaps upgrades have transpired since unawares to you or the system, AND you are sitting on the receiving platform. You want multiple layered hard-kill options the whole way . . . along with the soft-kill going on simultaneously, and hopefully our technology transcends the threat capabilities. The measures-countermeasures battle NEVER ENDS! The day you think you have the Cats-Meow, there is an adversary who will prove you wrong. Plan for the worse and hope for the best or we will be visiting your grave.

        • Oskar

          You think only one missile would be launched at a target?

          That’s adorable!

          • Curtis Conway

            Obviously not, given my previous comments. THAT observation is my primary argument against those who believe the LCS is survivable given its current configuration.
            However, permutations of combat can be driven sometimes, and solutions for those situations are tools in the arsenal.

    • Oskar

      BrahMos?

      Hilarious!

  • Angry bird

    If NSM / JSM gets stealth coating, nothing will stop it. NSM benefits on the research on the JSM. It will probably get a passive radio frequency sensor as well.

    • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

      Why bother?

      It is a sea-skimmer anyway & already has a very well shaped form

  • Duane

    Sounds like a matter of timing … Boeing wasn’t ready yet with its next-gen Harpoon, the NSM is already in service with a NATO ally and ready to go now, and the RFP was released last month. This competition will go on for years longer, not just with the LCS but with other surface warship classes as well.

    There doesn’t seem to be much public information out there yet on the next-gen Harpoon capabilities and how they match up with the NSM, particularly with respect to the degree of onboard sensors and computational capability to support “fire and forget” semi-autonomous operations. That’s really the biggest difference between both the NSM and LRASM with respect to the older Harpoons, and any other anti-ship missile in the world, for that matter.

    • DaSaint

      All these missiles are fire-and-forget. This technology is 40 years old, it’s no longer brain surgery. It’s a matter of defeating countermeasures, both active and passive.

      • Ole Larsen

        It’s also about not hitting the cruise liner or the fully loaded oil tanker in the area. When you increase the range from 70 to 150+ nm these things become important.

        • DaSaint

          And that os where the UAV comes in. Target descrimination and midcourse updates.

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    Don’t have a go at me chief.

    It’s your ship that that has the chronic weight reduction efforts (as anyone doing a google search for ‘LCS weight problems’ will see!)

    • PolicyWonk

      And these weight problems are directly related to the lack of room for growth in LCS: you simply cannot add weapons of significance, or more protection, without affecting the weight (and therefore impacting performance) of LCS.

      • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

        Actual capabilities sacrificed in order to maintain the stupidity of a 130m 3,000 tonne jet boat!

        • PolicyWonk

          Add to that, the stupidity of spending $400M (not counting any mission package) to defeat a swarm of speed boats that cost (in total) less than $100k…

  • @USS_Fallujah

    Not like Boeing to walk away from an RFP without a fight. Wonder if their issue with the ” undervalues our overall capability” was price, weight, seeker or range. Maybe all of the above?

    • tpharwell

      The politics of the process. I take their statement at face value, because that quite candidly is what they are saying. They said the “requirements” of the RFP went through successive revisions that played to the strengths of the competition, and not to theirs. So, they are implying that the process is unfair. Navy has already decided what it wants. And now higher ups are directing changes to be made to the RFP that will ensure they get it. Result: procurement process as farce.

  • PolicyWonk

    The Harpoon had its time, and while still reliable, our potential adversaries have a variety of more lethal and longer-ranged weapons that reveal Harpoon as a less capable weapon. What Boeing is saying is that it cannot meet the requirement, and therefore is dropping out of the competition.

    OTOH, the only real beneficiaries of LCS are in the boardrooms of the recipients of these floating corporate welfare programs – and if it has or had a time – this would be measured by however long the checks keep filling their respective coffers. In the mean time, the taxpayers lose.

    • ElmCityAle

      US Navy has passed on previous Harpoon upgrades than foreign customers have purchased and is using a decades old version. If there is a finger to be pointed, it might not be at the contractor for this weapon.

  • honcho13

    And just what frigates would they put these on? The Constitution (in Boston) or the Constellation (in Baltimore)? The “new” Navy frigate is barely a speck on the horizon! And by that time, the Harpoon will probably be obsolete! Fair winds and following seas, MMCS(SW), USS Lockwood (FF-1064) – 1986-88