AGM-84 Harpoon

The Harpoon is an all-weather, over-the-horizon, anti-ship missile system, developed and manufactured by the McDonnell Douglas Corporation of the United States of America, with manufacturing now taken over by Boeing Integrated Defense Systems. In 2004, Boeing delivered the 7,000th Harpoon unit since the weapon was introduced 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, made without the solid-fueled booster); surface ships (the RGM-84, fitted with a solid-fueled rocket booster that detaches when expended, to allow the turbojet to maintain flight); submarines (the UGM-84, fitted with a solid-rocket launch booster and encapsulated in a container to enable submerged launch through a torpedo tube); and, coastal defense batteries, from which it would be fired with a solid-fueled booster. The Harpoon has been procured by many American allies, especially by the NATO countries, as well as Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Singapore, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the United Arab Emirates are also known to have purchased the Harpoon missile.

AGM-84 Harpoon
Class Missile
Type Air to Surface
Manufacturer Boeing
Origin United States of America
Country Name Origin Year
United States of America 1977
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Australia View
Brunei View
Canada View
Denmark View
Egypt View
Germany View
Greece View
Indonesia View
Iran (Persia) View
Israel View
Italy View
Japan View
Korea View
Kuwait View
Malaysia View
Netherlands View
Pakistan View
Portugal View
Saudi Arabia View
Singapore View
Spain View
Thailand (Siam) View
Turkey (Ottoman Empire) View
United Arab Emirates View
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) View
United States of America 1977 View
Venezuela View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Boeing View
Douglas Aircraft Company View

In 1965 the U.S. Navy began studies for a missile in the 45 km (25 nm) range class for use against surfaced submarines. The name Harpoon was assigned to the project (i.e. a harpoon to kill "whales", a naval slang term for submarines). The sinking of the Israeli destroyer Eilat in 1967 by a Soviet-built Styx anti-ship missile shocked senior United States Navy officers, who until then had not been conscious of the threat posed by anti-ship missiles. In 1970 Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo Zumwalt accelerated the development of Harpoon as part of his "Project Sixty" initiative, hoping to add much needed striking power to US surface combatants. Harpoon was primarily developed for use on US Navy warships such as the Ticonderoga-class cruiser as their principal anti-ship weapon system.

The Harpoon has also been adapted for carriage on several aircraft, such as the P-3 Orion, the A-6 Intruder, the S-3 Viking, the AV-8B Harrier II, and the F/A-18 Hornet and U.S. Air Force B-52H bombers. Harpoon was purchased by many American allies, including Pakistan, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates and most NATO countries. It has been carried by several U.S. Air Force aircraft, including the B-52H bomber and F-16 Fighting Falcon.

The Royal Australian Air Force is capable of firing AGM-84 series missiles from its F/A-18F Super Hornets, F/A-18A/B Hornets, and AP-3C Orion aircraft, and previously from the now retired F-111C/Gs. The Royal Australian Navy deploys the Harpoon on major surface combatants and in the Collins-class submarines. The Spanish Air Force and the Chilean Navy are also AGM-84D customers, and they deploy the missiles on surface ships, and F/A-18s, F-16s, and P-3 Orion aircraft. The British Royal Navy deploys the Harpoon on several types of surface ship.

The Royal Canadian Navy carries Harpoon missiles on its Halifax-class frigates. The Royal New Zealand Air Force is looking at adding the capability of carrying a stand-off missile, probably Harpoon or AGM-65 Maverick, on its six P-3 Orion patrol planes once they have all been upgraded to P3K2 standard.

The Republic of Singapore Air Force also operates five modified Fokker 50 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) which are fitted with the sensors needed to fire the Harpoon missile. The Pakistani Navy carries the Harpoon missile on its naval frigates and P-3C Orions. The Turkish Navy carries Harpoons on surface warships and Type 209 submarines. The Turkish Air Force will be armed with the SLAM-ER.

At least 339 Harpoon missiles were sold to the Republic of China Air Force (Taiwan) for its F-16 A/B Block 20 fleet and the Taiwanese Navy, which operates four guided-missile destroyers and eight guided-missile frigates with the capability of carrying the Harpoon, including the eight former U.S. Navy Knox-class frigates and the four former USN Kidd-class destroyers which have been sold to Taiwan. The two Zwaardvis/Hai Lung submarines and 12 P-3C Orion aircraft can also use the missile. The eight Cheng Kung-class frigate, despite being based on the US Oliver Hazard Perry-class class, have Harpoon capabilities deleted from their combat systems, and funding to restore it has so far been denied.

The Block 1 missiles were designated AGM/RGM/UGM-84A in US service and UGM-84B in the UK. Block 1B standard missiles were designated AGM/RGM/UGM-84C, Block 1C missiles were designated AGM/RGM/UGM-84D. Block 1 used a terminal attack mode that included a pop-up to approximately 1800m before diving on the target; Block 1B omitted the terminal pop-up; and Block 1C provided a selectable terminal attack mode.

In 1981 and 1982 there were two accidental launches of Harpoon missiles: one by the USN and the other by the Danish Navy, which destroyed and damaged buildings in the recreational housing area Lumsås. The Danish missile was later known as the hovsa-missile (hovsa being the Danish term for oops).

In November 1980 during Operation Morvarid Iranian missile boats attacked and sank two Iraqi Osa-class missile boats; one of the weapons used was the Harpoon missile.

In 1986, the United States Navy sank at least two Libyan patrol boats in the Gulf of Sidra. Two Harpoon missiles were launched from the USS Yorktown with no confirmed results and several others from A-6 Intruder aircraft that were said to have hit their targets. Initial reports claimed that the USS Yorktown scored hits on a patrol boat, but action reports indicated that the target may have been a false one and that no ships were hit by those missiles.

In 1988, Harpoon missiles were used to sink the Iranian frigate Sahand during Operation Praying Mantis. Another was fired at the Kaman-class missile boat Joshan, but failed to strike because the fast attack craft had already been mostly sunk by RIM-66 Standard missiles. An Iranian-owned Harpoon missile was also fired at the guided missile cruiser USS Wainwright. The missile was successfully lured away by chaff.

In December 1988, a Harpoon launched by an F/A-18 Hornet fighter from the aircraft carrier USS Constellation killed one sailor when it struck the merchant ship Jagvivek, a 250 ft (76 m) long Indian-owned ship, during an exercise at the Pacific Missile Range near Kauai, Hawaii. A Notice to Mariners had been issued warning of the danger, but Jagvivek left port before receiving the communication and subsequently strayed into the test range area, and the Harpoon missile, loaded just with an inert dummy warhead, locked onto it instead of its intended target.

In June 2009, it was reported by an American newspaper, citing unnamed officials from the Obama administration and the U.S. Congress, that the American government had accused Pakistan of illegally modifying some older Harpoon missiles to strike land targets. Pakistani officials denied this and they claimed that the US was referring to a new Pakistani-designed missile. Some international experts were also reported to be skeptical of the accusations. Robert Hewson, editor of Jane's Air Launched Weapons, pointed out that the Harpoon is not suitable for the land-attack role due to deficiency in range. He also stated that Pakistan was already armed with more sophisticated missiles of Pakistani or Chinese design and, therefore, "beyond the need to reverse-engineer old US kit." Hewson offered that the missile tested by Pakistan was part of an undertaking to develop conventionally armed missiles, capable of being air- or surface-launched, to counter its rival India's missile arsenal. It was later stated that Pakistan and the US administration had reached some sort of agreement allowing US officials to inspect Pakistan's inventory of Harpoon missiles, and the issue had been resolved.

General Information
Developed by USA
Deployed by Australia, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, UK, USA, Venezuela
Development Year 1971
Deployment Year 1977
Platform AGM-84 USN: F/A-18, P-3C, S-3B Viking, USAF: B-52, F-111C, A-6E, F-16 RGM-84 2 California-class, 27 Ticonderoga-class cruisers, 21 Arleigh Burke-class, 31 Spruance-class, 4 Kidd-class destroyers Perry-class frigates UGM-84 US Navy attack submarine
Launcher air launchers not fitted with a booster and canister, carried in conventional fashion on a weapons pylon., ship launchers A 4-tube Mk141 launcher (usually), standard Mk11/13 and Mk26 Tartar/Standard launchers, Mk112 ASROC
Number manufactured 7,073 (through 1998) (including 3,290 export)
Number deployed about 5,800 (April,1992)
Contractor Boeing Co., Military Aircraft & Missile System Div.(McDonnell Douglas Missile Systems)

Dimensions and Performance
Length 4.64m(1C), 5.23m(1D)
Body Diameter 34cm
Wing/Fin span 83cm
Launch Weight 682kg(1C), 784.7kg(1D)
Range 92km(1A/B), 124km(1C), 240km(1D)
Speed high subsonic
Altitude sea-skimming cruise

Propulsion turbofan
Engine Teledyne CAE J402-CA-400 turbojet engine
Warhead 224kg HE penetration/HE blast
Guidance inertial, active radar

End notes