The US Navy and Boeing have agreed to share the cost of developing the Harpoon Block II naval anti-ship missile modified to attack land targets.

Approved for engineering, manufacturing and development, the USN has given Boeing the go-ahead to market the missile internationally. Although not in the budget, the USN supports the missile concept and retains the option to add Harpoon Block II to its inventory in the future.

Boeing is funding development of the missile and ship launch control variants. The USN will support test and evaluation and provide programme oversight. The weapon will be available for fielding in 2000.

Armed with a 220kg (485lb) blast warhead, the Block II variant incorporates a global positioning/ inertial navigation system (GPS/INS) from the Joint Direct Attack Munition and the software, mission computer and the GPS antenna and receiver from the Standoff Land Attack Missile (Expanded Response).

The UK Royal Navy submarine HMS Splendid test fired an armed Raytheon Tomahawk land attack missile for the first time on 18 November, marking the navy's entry into service of the long-range weapon. The firing took place from a location off the coast of southern California, and the weapon flew 800km (500 miles) before hitting its target on San Clemente Island. The test follows two trial launches of unarmed missiles. The UK purchased 65 of the missiles in a $300 million deal.

Source: Flight International