It has contributed to saving lives in Ukraine and also in some African countries

Harpoon: this is the anti-ship missile delivered by Spain to Ukraine to defend against Russia

The Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Oleksiy Reznikov, has arrived in Spain today, and has pointed out a fact that had not been confirmed until now.

Naval Strike Missile: the modern anti-ship missile that the Spanish Navy will receive
The impact of three anti-ship missiles on an American frigate in the Pacific Ocean

The information was pointed out by Reznikov during a joint press conference (see video) with the Minister of Defense of Spain, Margarita Robles. Reznikov claimed that Spain delivered Harpoon anti-ship missiles to Ukraine, which are helping to keep Russian warships away from the Ukrainian coasts. "The Spanish Harpoons right now are guaranteeing that African countries receive Ukrainian grain and thus they can survive the famine,", Reznikov said.

Launch of a Harpoon missile from the Australian Anzac-class frigate HMAS Stuart (FFG 153) during the RIMPAC 2020 exercise (Photo: Royal Australian Navy).

On Wednesday, February 22, Robles announced the delivery of "five naval systems" to Ukraine, without giving further details. That same week, and citing military sources, the newspaper La Razón pointed out that it was the Harpoon missiles, but until now there was no official confirmation. Robles has appealed to the need not to reveal information to Russia, but the reality is that this type of military shipments has caused differences between the socialist half of the government, in favor of the shipment, and the communist half, contrary to all military aid to Ukraine. The opacity of Spanish military shipments to Ukraine could seek to avoid criticism from the government's communist partners.

Launch of a Harpoon missile from the Ticonderoga-class missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) during exercise PACVAN 2019 (Photo: U.S. Navy).

Personally, I think it is excellent news that Spain has sent those anti-ship missiles to Ukraine and that they have helped to keep the Russian Navy at bay, thus reducing the effects of the food crisis that Russia was trying to provoke in the African continent with its blockade of grain exports from Ukraine. Those Spanish missiles may have contributed to saving many lives, not only in Ukraine (preventing Russian attacks against its civilian population), but also in some African countries, where hunger is still a big problem.

Diagram of an RGM-84 Harpoon, the naval version of this missile. On the left we see the guidance section with the radar, in the front part of the missile. Next comes the warhead and then the turbreactor. In the back we see the rocket that the naval and land versions carry for launch (Image: Boeing).

The Harpoon was developed in the 1970s by McDonnell Douglas, now part of Boeing. It entered service with the United States Armed Forces in 1977. It can be launched from land launchers, surface ships, submarines, and aircraft. Surface-to-surface versions (land-launched and ship-launched) have a maximum range of 139 kilometers (although the most recent versions reach 278 km), while the air-to-surface version can hit targets as far as 220 kilometers (up to 315 km in the most recent versions). It is equipped with a 221 kg high-explosive warhead.

US Marines loading an AGM-84D Harpoon onto a US Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (Photo: U.S. Navy).

The Harpoon is a subsonic missile, equipped with a turbojet that allows it to reach a speed of 850 km/h. The naval versions also have a rocket that is activated at the time of launch. The missile is guided by radar and is equipped with a radio altimeter that allows it to fly to its target skimming the waves, making it difficult for the enemy to detect it. The naval version is bigger: it measures 4.6 meters and weighs 628 kg, while the airborne version measures 3.8 meters and weighs 519 kg.

An ATM-84J Harpoon, one of the airborne variants of this anti-ship missile, being prepared for loading onto a Royal Australian Air Force Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft on a deployment to Hawaii during exercise RIMPAC 2018 (Photo : Australian Armed Forces).

In Spain, this missile is used by the Navy and the Air Force. The Navy has been using the naval version, RGM-84, in the Santa María class frigates (F-80) and the Álvaro de Bazán class (F-100, which uses the RGM-84 Sub-Harpoon block II version) and corvettes strong> (today patrol boats) of the Discovery class. It is possible that the submarine version will also be integrated into the Isaac Peral class submarines (S-80). Judging by the statements of Margarita Robles, Spain could have sent this naval version to Ukraine. Currently, and due to the age of the Harpoon, it is planned to replace it with the more modern Naval Strike Missile (NSM) on the "Álvaro de Bazán" (F-100) class and "Bonifaz" (F-110) class frigates.

The Harpoon anti-ship missile launchers of the frigates "Álvaro de Bazán" F-101 and "Almirante Juan de Borbón" F-102 of the Spanish Navy (Photo: Elentir).

The Spanish Air Force uses the AGM-84 Harpoon in the EF-18M Hornet fighter-bombers: "In air-to-surface missions, once launched, the missile flies towards the target area and when it is it connects its own search sensor, locates the target and destroys it without the launcher having to act again. This allows said platform to concentrate on other different threats", the Air Force points out in your website. "This missile works in conjunction with the avionics of the launching platform, which makes it possible to modify the behavior of the missile, its attack methods and multiple launches against the same target."

An AGM-84 Harpoon loaded onto an F/A-18 (Photo: Boeing España).

In addition to Spain, Denmark, the United States, Morocco, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have also sent this type of missile to Ukraine. Through a missile of this type, Ukrainian forces sank the Russian ship "Vasily Bekh" on June 17, 2022.


Lead photo: U.S. navy. Launch of a Harpoon Block 1C anti-ship missile from the United States Navy littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4).

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