The Royal Navy has picked Kongsberg’s Naval Strike Missile (NSM) as a temporary replacement for its aging Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

According to British defense secretary Ben Wallace, the UK has signed a contract with the Norwegian government to acquire the radar-evading missiles.

The weapon will reportedly be fitted into eleven Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers to boost their long-range precision strike capabilities.

Wallace also revealed that three warships are being modified to be ready for the NSMs within 12 months.

“We have a long history of defense cooperation with Norway. This new agreement cements our partnership with one of our closest allies, whilst strengthening our Royal Navy with a new surface to surface strike capability,” he explained.

The Naval Strike Missile

Kongsberg’s NSM is a fifth-generation precision strike weapon capable of seeking and destroying enemy ships more than 100 nautical miles away (185 kilometers/115 miles).

It can be launched from various naval platforms to neutralize maritime and aerial targets, including drones, aircraft, and surface combatants.

The Norwegian missile features an autonomous target recognition capability to ensure the correct target is detected and neutralized.

It can also reportedly elude enemy radar and defense systems by flying at sea-skimming altitude and using advanced terminal maneuvers.

“NSM will enhance collaboration and interoperability with several of our key strategic partners. In the North Atlantic and Baltic Sea Region users, and soon to be users, include Norway, the US, Poland, Germany, and Canada. Both the US and Australia will operate NSM in the Pacific region,” the ministry stated.

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Replacing Harpoons

According to the British defense ministry, the acquisition and deployment of the NSMs are being rushed to meet next year’s decommissioning of the Harpoon missile.

The Boeing missile system was scheduled to go out of Royal Navy service in 2018. However, the plan was deferred until 2023 when it was learned that its replacement would not be ready until 2030.

The Harpoons have been in service with the military for more than four decades, being introduced in the 1980s.