The A/U/RGM-84 Harpoon is an all-weather, over-the-horizon, anti-ship missile system that provides the Navy with a common missile for air and ship launches. The weapon system uses mid-course guidance with a radar seeker to attack surface ships. Its active radar guidance, low-level, sea-skimming cruise trajectory, terminal mode sea-skim or pop-up maneuvers and warhead design, assure high survivability and effectiveness. Harpoon is capable of being launched from surface ships, submarines, shore batteries or aircraft.  Ship-, submarine- and shore-launched Harpoons require a booster for launch. Air-launched Harpoons are fired without the need of a booster and generally start the engine after aircraft separation.  Originally developed for the Navy to serve as its basic anti-ship missile for fleet-wide use, the A/R/UGM-84 was first introduced in 1977. In 1979 the air-launched version was deployed on the Navy’s P-3C Orion aircraft. The Harpoon was also adapted for use on Air Force B-52H bombers, which can carry from 8 to 12 of the missiles. In 1998, an advanced upgrade to Harpoon missile was developed. This Harpoon Block II missile incorporates GPS-assisted inertial navigation, which enables the system to have both an anti-ship and a land attack capability. The Block II version was not adopted by the U.S. Navy, but has been integrated on foreign F-16 aircraft and is presently being integrated on foreign F-15 aircraft. Twenty-nine foreign military partners employ the Harpoon Block II missile and its launch control equipment.

In late 2010, plans for an updated U.S. Navy version of the Harpoon Block II began to formalize. The Harpoon Block II+ provides a rapid-capability enhancement for the Navy that includes a new GPS guidance kit, reliability and survivability of the weapon, a new data link interface that enables in-flight updates, improved target selectivity, an abort option and enhanced resistance to electronic countermeasures.

When fielded to the fleet in the fourth quarter of Fiscal Year 2017, Harpoon Block II+ will join the Joint Standoff Weapon C-1 as the Navy’s only two air-to-ground network-enabled weapons.


Primary function: Air, ship, and foreign submarine and land-based coastal defense battery launched anti-ship cruise missile

Contractor: The Boeing Co.

Platforms: F/A-18A-F, P-3C

Date deployed: 1977

Propulsion: Teledyne turbojet/solid propellant booster for surface and submarine launch

Thrust: greater than 600 pounds (greater than 272.2 kg)

Length: Air-launched: 12 feet, 7 inches (3.8 meters); Surface- and submarine-launched: 15 feet (4.6 meters)

Diameter: 13.5 inches (34.3 cm)

Wingspan: 3 feet (91.4 cm) with booster fins and wings

Weight: 1,523 pounds (690.8 kg) with booster

Speed: High subsonic

Range: Over-the-horizon, in excess of 67 nautical miles (124 km)

Guidance system: Sea-skimming cruise monitored by radar altimeter / active radar terminal homing.