Harpoon missile in flight - Boeing Photo

The Harpoon is an all-weather, over-the-horizon, anti-ship missile system, originally developed by McDonnell Douglas of the United States, with development and manufacturing now taken over by Boeing Integrated Defense Systems.


Over 7,000 Harpoon units have been delivered since the weapon's introduction in 1977. The missile system has also been further developed into a coastal strike version, the Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM).

The Harpoon uses active radar homing and low-level, sea-skimming cruise trajectory to improve survivability and effectiveness. The missile's launch platforms include:

  • Airplanes (AGM-84, without the booster);

  • Surface ships (RGM-84, fitted with a solid rocket launch booster that detaches when expended to allow the missile's integral turbojet to maintain flight);

  • Submarines (UGM-84, fitted with a solid-rocket launch booster and encapsulated in a container to enable submerged launch through a torpedo tube);

  • Coastal defence batteries.

The chief competitors of the Harpoon are the French Exocet, the Swedish RBS15, the Russian SS-N-25 Switchblade and the Chinese Yingji.

HARPOON Specifications
Type Anti-Ship Missile
Manufacturer Boeing
Weight Sea launched 662kg, air launched 515kg
Warhead 488lb (221kg), penetration high-explosive blast
Length sea launched 4.5m - air launched 3.8m
Diameter 0.35m
Wingspan 0.91m
Performance Range >150 miles, speed 855kmh
Propulsion Teledyne Turbojet and solid propellant booster for surface and submarine launch

Photo Courtesy of Boeing