Navy

Long-range strike boost as subsonic missile system to be fitted to Royal Navy warships

What is the Naval Strike Missile?

Royal Navy frigates and destroyers will receive a significant boost to their long-range precision strike capabilities – following a new partnership between the UK and Nato and Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) ally, Norway.

The Royal Navy will receive the Naval Strike Missile (NSM), outfitted on a total of 11 Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers, in a collaboration with the Norwegian government.

Measuring nearly four metres long, the NSMs are a fifth-generation missile that uses integrated sensors and autonomous target recognition to precisely strike enemy ships and targets on land at distances of more than 100 nautical miles (115 miles) at high subsonic speeds.

The NSMs can elude enemy radar and defence systems by flying at sea-skimming altitude and using evasive manoeuvres.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who announced the maritime capability upgrade, met with Northern Group Defence Ministers on board the Royal Navy's flagship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, alongside in Oslo.

"We have a long history of defence co-operation with Norway," Mr Wallace said.

"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.

This anti-ship missile will look to replace the Harpoon surface-to-surface weapon, due to go out of service in 2023, and will be fitted to three vessels at pace, ready for operations on board the first Royal Navy vessel in a little over 12 months.

The collaboration will result in more ships equipped with highly sophisticated naval strike missiles which, in turn, the Royal Navy will hope to contribute to enhancing the security in common areas of interest.

Watch: Royal Navy flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth arriving into Oslo, for her first-ever first to the Norwegian capital.

The missile system will be integrated into UK dockyards through Babcock and BAE with Norwegian support. The missile system is manufactured by Kongsberg Defence Aerospace.

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 meeting of Northern Group Defence Ministers on HMS Queen Elizabeth was for discussions on the implications of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, security developments in Northern Europe, and Sweden and Finland's Nato membership applications.

The Northern Group comprises 12 nations (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden and the UK) and is a UK initiative which aims to promote more coherent, efficient and effective defence and security co-operation in northern Europe.