HC Deb 29 January 2001 vol 362 c67W
Mr. Duncan Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he plans for the Astute class submarine to be capable of launching submarine-launched Harpoon missiles; [147764]

(2) for what reasons submarine-launched Harpoon missiles are being withdrawn in 2003; and if he will make a statement. [147763]

Dr. Moonie

It has been assessed that, beyond 2003, our anti-surface ship capability needs can be met through the use of other platforms and weapons systems. These include air and surface launched Harpoon missiles. Under current plans we intend to withdraw the Royal Navy Sub-Harpoon from service 2003.

We are considering whether RN submarines should retain a capability to fire the new Harpoon Block 2 missile which has increased capability. On current plans the submarines of the Astute class will be capable of launching Harpoon missiles.

The precise mix of weapons and the chosen variants of each which the Astute class will carry is still under review. It will, however, carry the Spearfish torpedo which does have an anti-surface ship capability.