Kongsberg NSMs to replace Harpoon IIs in the Spanish fleet

Officials from the Spanish Navy have officially announced their replacement intentions for 2027.
Christopher McFadden
A Kongsberg NSM being test-fired.


Officials for the Spanish Navy have confirmed that its F-100 and F-110 frigates will soon begin receipt of Kongsberg's fifth-generation Naval Strike Missiles (NSM). Handover of the missiles will begin sometime in 2027, three years before the planned retirement of the fleet's existing Harpoon anti-ship armaments.

“The estimated date of receipt of the first NSM will coincide with the entry into service of the first F-110 frigate,” Capt. Alfonso Carrasco Santos, who worked on the Spanish naval capabilities planning staff, told Defense News. As for the F-110 frigate, according to Defense News, the first of the class will come online around the same time. Until such time, Santos also confirmed existing Harpoon missiles would remain in service until all NSM missiles are received. Santos did not reveal the precise quantity of missiles to be obtained, stating only that it “will be necessary to satisfy our strategic needs.”

There has also been little-to-no information released on the value of the new contract, given that it is unclear how many Harpoon missiles are currently in Spanish hands. However, according to Defense News, sources in the industry estimate that the Spanish Navy would likely need around three dozen (36) missiles to replace existing stockpiles. If true, this would value the new contract at around $36 million. But, this is complicated by the fact that Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov claimed that Madrid had provided Kyiv with an undisclosed number of Harpoon missiles in April of 2023.

The 897-pound (407 kg), 156-inch (3.96m) long NSM missiles have been specifically designed to seek and destroy naval and land-based targets at distances in excess of 115 nautical miles at "high subsonic" speeds.

This is roughly one-third greater than Spain's existing stockpile of Harpoon missiles. The missiles are also able to fly just above sea level (to evade defense systems) and rely on GPS, terrain-reference sensors (like infrared homing), and inertial data to guide the warhead to their intended targets.

As for the missiles they are replacing, Harpoon IIs were first installed on Spanish F-30 Descubierta-class corvettes built for the Spanish Navy in the late 1970s. The F-100 Álvaro de Bazán-class frigates also come equipped with two four-celled anti-ship missiles, while the F-80 Santa María-class frigates boast a single-armed Mk13 missile launcher capable of holding eight Harpoon missiles.

Outside of the Navy, The Spanish Air Force utilizes Harpoon missiles on their F-18 Hornets, specifically the AGM-84 variant for aircraft. During air-to-surface operations, the missile is launched and autonomously flies toward the designated target area. It then activates its own search sensor to locate and destroy the target without requiring further action from the launcher.

With the deliveries in 2027, Madrid will become the ninth operator of the NSM, with it currently being used by several other countries, including Norway, Poland, Germany, Canada, Australia, the United States, and Romania.

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