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Harpoons for Ukraine: Will missiles help unblock the Black Sea?

The news that the Harpoon anti-ship missiles, as a result of cooperation between Denmark, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and the USA, are already in Ukraine, caused a flurry of doctored pictures on the subject of the Moskva submarine cruiser and maps on which we reach from Odesa to Sevastopol with missiles.

But will the Harpoons help lift the blockade of our ports, secure Odesa and help us protect the western Black Sea?

Harpoons against the USSR fleet

Since the days of the USSR, which was going to build 186-meter cruisers — "aircraft carrier killers", and on them — monstrous supersonic missiles Granit and Basalt, capable of flying 550 kilometers, small NATO countries clearly realized that they could not dominate the fleet Warsaw Pact until the major forces of democracy arrive.

Photo: US Department of Defense

Photo: US Department of Defense

There will not be enough money, technology, and fleet tonnage.

But by blocking the narrow bottleneck of the Bosphorus and the Danish Straits, it was possible to block the "red" cruisers, preventing them from entering the ocean.

By clamping between the anvils of minefields and the hammer of launches of multi-purpose aircraft, frigates, and submarines. Repeating what has always happened to the Russian fleet as a result of both world wars.

The American Harpoon anti-ship missiles were ideal for this — cheap, subsonic, in unitary quadded containers.

Capable of working from under the wing, from the side of the ship, from under the water, and from ground platforms. Literally from civilian vehicles, as it was implemented for Denmark.

Photo: US Department of Defense

Photo: US Department of Defense

Weaknesses and advantages of Harpoons

Harpoons do not fly at a distance of 550 km, like the Soviet "aircraft carrier killers". They fly at more modest distances — up to 220 km in Block II and up to 125 km — in the early series.

Their speed is not Mach 2.5, but somewhere around 0.7, and there is no strong kinetic blow with a semi-armor-piercing head.

But there are pluses as well — even small countries can afford to have them in service.

It is possible to launch a dozen missiles in one salvo, overloading the enemy’s air defense with decoys and interference — something will hit the target anyway, and the weight of the entire salvo will be only $15 million.

Threatening attacks from different directions to the ship worth at least a quarter of a billion dead presidents (that is, dollars).

7,000 Harpoons on the market guarantee that one can easily build up a grouping in a threatening theater of operations, remove them from storage, upgrade them from an early version to a later one, juggle with modifications if it turns out that the first iterations, for example, are stifled by EW.

Why Harpoons are suitable for Ukraine

All of this is extremely suitable for Ukraine, which lacks air superiority and aircraft paired with Western missiles, whose production of its own Neptune anti-ship missiles is threatened by Russian precision-guided weapons.

However, what is better — numerous launches from cheap carriers or expensive "white elephants" in the role of the cruiser Moskva, could not be figured out during the days of the USSR, because the Soviet Union died in agony.

But during the days of Ukraine, it was figured out, and the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet joined the underwater grouping named after Willy the killer whale.

Photo: Danish Ministry of Defense

Photo: Danish Ministry of Defense

As a result, it was decided: Harpoons will still do some work to contain the Russian Federation.

Therefore, by the way, Denmark also hands over technology to Ukraine — they were the only ones outside of Japan and South Korea to have two batteries of ground-based carriers out of eight launchers.

Threat not only to ships

Of course, NATO does not call our editorial office, but, probably, Denmark will send us the launch chassis, and the United States in the future — early versions of the missile.

With an efficient engine, increased radius, and upgraded homing head.

Moreover, Harpoon Block II is a palliative — an anti-ship missile and surface-to-surface one at the same time. One can hit not only ships, but also depots, radar stations, and headquarters.

It is unlikely that this will help solve operational problems, but as an option it is useful.

Ground launchers in Denmark use the Terma C3 guidance system, a Danish development that combines 21 radars of the national fleet into a single network.

At the final stage of the flight, the radar homing head is turned on, locking onto a target.

It is possible to aim Harpoons with airplanes, the main thing is that the item goes into the right square where the head will work. It can be driven there by both the inertial system and the flight task through given points.

U.S. deal with Boeing

On May 30, it became known that the U.S. Navy clinched a deal with Boeing for an unnamed number of Harpoon missiles, there are few options — either Taiwan with its contract for 2025 as part of the "Project Swift", or us.

I think that it is also possible that items from the U.S. stocks will be shipped to us, and they will then cover the needs with fresh production.

So, whether Ukraine will get the Block II ER, which reaches a distance of 300 km due to a lightweight warhead of 140 kg, is far from a fact.

It is likely that in the first package we will see the British and Danish Block 1C, and after that Uncle Sam will send us more.

Photo: Taiwan Ministry of Defense

Photo: Taiwan Ministry of Defense

So far, without Sevastopol

One should not rush and draw Sevastopol in the engagement range, especially since the Kh-35Us from the Bal system also reach Odesa in response.

But it's safe to say that Ukraine will be able to:

  • to reduce the activity of anti-airborne measures in the South;
  • focus on isolating the Russian garrison on Zmiinyi Island, which is amassing air defenses and rocket artillery there;
  • to secure possible minesweeping routes in the west of the Black Sea.

In general, the Russian Black Sea Fleet will act even more carefully in the Black Sea region, especially after the loss of the large landing ship and the flagship.

Knowing that somewhere a couple of batteries with a mobile stock — an additional 32 missiles in a salvo — awaits them.

But the threat to shipping from aircraft or Russian anti-ship missiles will not disappear, and mines can be placed again under air cover.

Is it possible to unblock ports

The issue of unblocking Odesa, Yuzny, and Mykolaiv lies in the UN resolution and the escort of dry cargo ships with grain by international stabilization forces, if we are talking about the hunger of millions of people.

One should not fabricate victories out of the blue, so then there will be no disappointment from unrealizable goals. Because a couple of Danish batteries with a stock does not equal the immediate unblocking of ports.

The main acquisition for Ukraine is the market of a missile that has been repeatedly tested in combat conditions, a missile that is modernized and produced by our main partner.

And if we urgently need to get Harpoons as a donor aid or on credit, then there are hundreds of them in the storage depots in the Alliance. The enemy cannot target their production like that of the Neptunes.

And even more so, the enemy cannot ignore the fact that the United States has released ground-based versions of launchers for South Korea and Denmark, which means they can repeat them for Ukraine.

More security, less risks of the coast shelling and raiding by the Russian Armed Forces ships — a good "catch" of the now Ukrainian Harpoons.


  • Earlier we reported that Britain planned to transfer high-tech Brimstone missiles to Ukraine.
  • The Page also reported that Kremlin propagandist Vladimir Soloviev threatened to "wipe Britain off the map" with the Satan-2 missile.

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