The UK MoD Weapons, Torpedoes, Tomahawk and Harpoon (TTH) Project Team issued the PIN March 8, 2019. Note that a PIN isn’t a tender but is a notice used to set out a contracting authority’s purchasing intentions. A PIN is mostly used by contracting authorities to provide suppliers with information that they are planning a procurement process and provides suppliers with as much information as possible at an early stage.
The PIN explains that the UK MoD has a possible future requirement to procure a next generation ship launched anti-ship weapon system for use within training and operational roles with the Royal Navy. First delivery of the ship installed equipment would be required by December 2022 and first delivery of missiles would be required by December 2023. The potential contract will be for 4 years, with the potential of option years to follow (up to 9 more years), the potential contract would cover the following activities:
Manufacture and delivery of the weapon system to be delivered in Financial Year 2023/2024.
Installation of the weapon system onto Royal Navy ships.
Provision and support of interface requirements to assist ships installation.
Provision of train the trainer courses.
Maintenance and technical support for the operational upkeep of the weapon system.
Should this requirement proceed, a Contract Notice will be published in due course with more precise requirements and interested parties will be invited to complete an online pre-qualification questionnaire, which will be measured against selected criteria in terms of commercial and technical requirements.
The technical requirement will be base lined against the user requirements and include questions regarding:
- battlefield effect,
- terminal effect,
- interoperability: climatic and environment,
- munition sensitivity,
- system and design safety,
- human factors,
- sustainability and supply chain,
- Capability resilience and reliability.
Evidence will be required at the pre-qualification questionnaire stage to demonstrate the weapon system can meet the MoD’s requirement set. The estimated value for the contract excluding VAT ranges between 100 000 000 and 200 000 000 GBP.
The Royal Navy’s surface fleet (Type 23 frigates and some of the Type 45 destroyers) currently deploys with Harpoon Block 1C procured back in the 1980s. The ageing system was set to reach its end of shelf life in 2018, but this has been pushed back to 2023. The Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon (FC/ASW), an ongoing joint UK / France program, won’t be ready until 2030ies at best and the Royal Navy needs an interim, off the shelf anti-ship missile solution for its current and future surface fleet (with the first Type 26 frigate set to be delivered around 2025).
Likely bidders for the the SSGW requirement include Lockheed Martin with the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM), Kongsberg with the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) and Saab’s RBS15 Mk4 , three anti-ship missiles of the latest generation. Another likely bidder is MBDA, Europe’s leading missile producer, with the Exocet MM40 in its latest variant: Block 3C. Block 3C uses a new, advanced, coherent RF seeker. It will be the French Navy’s anti-ship missile of choice for the next few years until delivery of the FC/ASW.
Other (less likely) bidders may include IAI with Gabriel V Advanced Naval Attack Missile (also using a coherent RF seeker) from Israel which was recently selected by the Finnish Navy, South Korea’s C-Star by LIG Nex1, Japan’s Type 90 by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries or Taiwan’s Hsiung Feng II or III.
Of course another option might just be a foreign military sale of Boeing Harpoon into the latest version dubbed “RGM-84Q-4” or Block II+ .