Boeing Harpoon

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The Harpoon is an all-weather, over-the-horizon, anti-ship missile system, developed and manufactured by McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing Defense, Space & Security). In 2004, Boeing delivered the 7,000th Harpoon unit since the weapon's introduction in 1977. The missile system has also been further developed into a land-strike weapon, the Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM).

The regular Harpoon uses active radar homing, and a low-level, sea-skimming cruise trajectory to improve survivability and lethality. The missile's launch platforms include:

  • Fixed-wing aircraft (the AGM-84, without the solid-fuel rocket booster)
  • Surface ships (the RGM-84, fitted with a solid-fuel rocket booster that detaches when expended, to allow the missile's main turbojet to maintain flight)
  • Submarines (the UGM-84, fitted with a solid-fuel rocket booster and encapsulated in a container to enable submerged launch through a torpedo tube);
  • Coastal defense batteries, from which it would be fired with a solid-fuel rocket booster.

The missile is comparable to the French-made Exocet missile, the Swedish RBS-15 missile, the Russian SS-N-25 Switchblade, the British Sea Eagle missile, and the Chinese Yingji.



The Harpoon was first introduced in 1977 after the sinking of the Israeli destroyer Eilat in 1967 by a Soviet-built Styx anti-ship missile from an Egyptian missile boat. Initially developed as an air-launched missile for the United States Navy P-3 Orion patrol planes, the Harpoon has been adapted for use on U.S. Air Force B-52H bombers, which can carry from eight to 12 of the missiles. The Harpoon missile has been purchased by many American allies, especially by the NATO countries, as well as and Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, etc., in other parts of the world.

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