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US approves $735 million sale to Finland of Harpoon anti-ship and ESSM air defense missiles

The U.S. State Department approved the $735 million sale of 112 Harpoon anti-ship missiles and 68 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles used to defend ships from aerial attack, the Defense Cooperation Security Agency said in two Monday, February 5 press releases.

RGM-84 Harpoon missiles

The first release said that the government of Finland requested 100 “RGM-84Q-4 Harpoon Block II Plus (+) Extended Range (ER) Grade B Surface-Launched Missiles,” and 12 “RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II Grade B Surface-Launched Missiles.”

The estimated total value of the sale is $622 million, and the principal contractor is Boeing.

“Finland intends to use the missiles on its Hamina class ships, Multirole Corvette ships, and Coastal Batteries,” the release said. “The missiles will provide enhanced capabilities in effective defense of critical sea lanes. The proposed sale of the missiles and support will increase the Finnish Navy’s maritime partnership potential and increase regional security capability.”

USS Shiloh launches Harpoon missile
A Harpoon missile is launched from the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67) during a live-fire exercise, September 15, 2014. Image: US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kevin V. Cunningham

Harpoon is an all-weather, over-the-horizon, anti-ship missile system introduced in 1977. It uses active radar homing and a low-level, sea-skimming cruise to improve survivability.

The RGM-84L Harpoon Block II missile approved for sale to Finland is an improved version intended to give enhanced resistance to electronic countermeasures and improved targeting. The original missile was designed as an open-ocean weapon and Block II adds a littoral (coastal) anti-ship capability. It adds the inertial measurement unit from the Joint Direct Attack Munition, and the software, computer, GPS/inertial navigation system from the SLAM Expanded Response (SLAM-ER).

Block II+ includes an improved GPS guidance system and a datalink to enable in-flight targeting updates.

The Extended Range variant that makes up the bulk of the proposed sale almost doubles the missile’s range from 70 nautical miles (81 miles, 130 km) to 134 nautical miles (154 miles, 248 km), albeit with a lighter warhead – 300 pounds (140 kg) versus 488 pounds (221 kg) in the standard missile.

The approved sale also includes 12 upgrade kits for the extended range missiles, and four “exercise” missiles of each type. Also included are the usual containers, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, training and training equipment,  and engineering and logistics support services.

The notification to the U.S. Congress says that the Major Defense Equipment element of the sale – the missiles, training missiles and upgrade kits – is valued at $434 million, and the other equipment and services at $188 million.

Last month the State Department approved a $98.4 million sale of two types of missiles, torpedoes and various ammunition to Mexico for use on a new naval patrol frigate.

RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile launch
An Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) is launched from the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in the Pacific Ocean, July 23, 2010. Image: US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Patrick Green

RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missiles

The second release said that the government of Finland requested 68 Evolved SeaSparrow Missiles (ESSM) and one ESSM inert operational missile.

The approved sale also includes 17 MK25 quad pack canisters and eight MK783 shipping containers, along with spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, training, engineering, technical and logistics support services and support.

The estimated total value of this sale is $112.7 million and the principal contractors are Raytheon for the missiles, and BAE Systems for the canisters.

“Finland intends to use the missiles on its new Squadron 2020 class Corvette ships, the release said. “The missiles will provide enhanced capabilities in effective defense of critical sea lanes and improve Finland’s capability to meet current and future threats of enemy anti-ship weapons.”

The RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missile was developed from the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow missile and is used for air defense. It is intended to protect ships from both aircraft and missiles, in particular to counter supersonic anti-ship missiles.

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