Royal Navy negotiating Naval Strike Missile purchase
Speaking at a hearing of the Parliament Defence Committee on 5 July, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace revealed that the UK RN had selected an interim weapon to replace the gap between the retirement of its Harpoon missiles and the introduction of the Future Cruise Anti-Ship Weapon (FC/ ASW) towards the end of the decade.
Shephard understands that the RN has selected the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) and is conducting negotiations for its purchase with Kongsberg and Raytheon.
The duo partnered to offer the missile, which has been sold to the USMC and USN, for a previously scrapped RN effort to procure an interim replacement for the Harpoon Block 1C missile under the Interim Surface-to-Surface Guided Weapon (I-SSGW) project.
Speaking to MPs, Wallace said: 'There is a plan for to replace Harpoon, there's an interim plan in between what we might settle on in the long term.
'I'm not sure I can share the details of that yet because I'm not even sure has been put out to tender, but there is absolutely a plan to do so.'
The Defence Secretary said that as a contract had not been placed, he had to be 'slightly careful', adding that the RN 'have decided on an interim weapon'.
Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) director of navy acquisition RAdm Paul Marshall added: 'We're in negotiation, so it would be inappropriate to comment.'
When explicitly asked if the RN was negotiating with Kongsberg and Raytheon for the purchase of the NSM, a spokesperson directed Shephard to a transcript of Wallace's remarks.
Pushed again on the question, the spokesperson highlighted Wallace's statement that it would be inappropriate to comment as the MoD was in negotiations.
Nor was Kongsberg prepared to comment specifically on the matter, although a company official told Shephard that several nations were interested in NSM.
Raytheon UK also said it could not comment on whether the company was in negotiations with the RN for the sale of the missile.
Scrapping the I-SSGW project would have seen the RN without a ship-launched Anti-Ship Missile (AShM) for at least five years from 2023 to 2028 when the resultant maritime FC/ASW is hoped to enter service on the first City-class Type 26 frigate.
On 6 July, Kongsberg signed a deal with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) to supply the missile for its Anzac-class frigates and Hobart-class destroyers.
NSM will replace the Harpoon missile system for the RAN.
Kongsberg bills the Norwegian-developed missile as a 'fifth-generation', long-range, precision strike missile designed to defeat heavily protected maritime targets.
Customers for the weapon also include India, Romania, Malaysia, the US and Australia.
A UK purchase would see all three AUKUS nations operate the same anti-ship missile.
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