Royal Navy Begins Warship NSM Anti-Ship Missile Upgrade

The Royal Navy has begun upgrading its Type 23 frigate with the Naval Strike Missile (NSM).

A total of 11 Type 23 and Type 45 destroyers will be outfitted with the Kongsberg missile as an interim replacement for its anti-ship Harpoon, scheduled to retire in 2023.

Five Type 23s and six Type 45s are expected to be armed with the missile. 

Babock and BAE Systems will carry out the integration with the help of the Norwegian government.

Harpoon Replacement

The Harpoon was inducted in the 1980s and originally scheduled for retirement by 2018. The plan was deferred until 2023 after it was learned that its replacement would not be ready until 2030.

In 2019, the service launched the Interim Surface-to-Surface Guided Weapon program to replace the Harpoon until the Future Cruise and Anti-Ship Weapon become available by early 2030.

In late 2021, the navy abandoned the 200-million-pound ($247 million) program to wait for the Anglo-French future anti-ship missile.

However, the Ukraine war laid bare the service’s lack of firepower, forcing it to reconsider the decision.


The fifth-generation Naval Strike Missile uses integrated sensors and autonomous target recognition to precisely hit sea and land-based targets over 100 nautical miles (115 miles or 185 kilometers).

The missile evades radar and defense systems using its maneuverability and sea-skimming flying ability at high subsonic speed.

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