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Boeing cancels Harpoon contract

Boeing has canceled plans to develop variants of the Harpoon anti-ship missile for the Littoral Combat Vessel and the frigate derivative from the program.

By Stephen Carlson
Boeing cancels Harpoon contract
Boeing said it cancelled its entry in the U.S. Navy search for a new version of the Harpoonto arm its Littoral Combat Vessel and frigates because it would have to design "a less-capable weapons system" in order to meet the latest requirements. Photo courtesy of Boeing

May 3 (UPI) -- Boeing has canceled plans to develop variants of the Harpoon anti-ship missile for the Littoral Combat Vessel and the frigate derivative from the U.S. Navy's program.

"We've really taken a hard look at what the requirements are that Naval Sea System Command has looked for in the request, Troy Rutherford, director of Boeing Cruise Missile Systems, told UNSI News. "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. 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."

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The proposed upgrade from the current Harpoon Block II would have extended its range to 150 miles, along with providing a new, more powerful warhead.

Rutherford told Defense News, however, that each version of the Navy's request for proposals included decreases or changes to top-level requirements for the missile. To meet the requirements, he said, the company "would have to take a lot of capability out of this existing system and really deliver a less-capable weapons system."

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The Harpoon missile and its variants has been in service with multiple countries since 1977. It is a surface, underwater and air-launched system designed to attack naval targets.

The contract cancellation means that Lockheed Martin's Long Range Anti Ship Missile, or LRASM, and the Raytheon-Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile is the only real replacement options for the Harpoon.

Boeing intends to continue developing upgrades for the weapon.

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"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 double the current production program well into the 2030s."

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