Britain's Royal Navy to buy new missiles from Norway

Surface-to-surface weapons to be fitted on British frigates and destroyers

The British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth arrived in Oslo on Monday. EPA
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The British Royal Navy will fit its warships with new strike missiles in a deal with Norway.

The upgrade was announced on Wednesday from the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth as it hosted a meeting of European defence ministers in Oslo.

The missiles, made by Norway’s Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace, will replace an older generation of Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

They will be fitted on several Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers and can be fired at ships or land targets.

“This new agreement cements our partnership with one of our closest allies, while strengthening our Royal Navy with a new surface-to-surface strike capability,” said UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

The subsonic Kongsberg missiles are used by Nato countries including the US and Germany, while Australia signed a contract for them in July.

Kongsberg said the missiles for Britain would be ready for operations in “a little over 12 months” as Harpoons are withdrawn from service.

The new naval strike missiles have a range of 185 kilometres, compared to about 130km for the Harpoons, the Norwegian government said.

“This is a significant task with an ambitious timeline,” said Norway’s Defence Minister Bjorn Arild Gram.

The 65,000-tonne HMS Queen Elizabeth arrived in Norway after operations in the North Sea.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store, a former naval cadet, boarded the ship in what Britain described as a show of friendship between the Nato allies.

The warship made what the Royal Navy called one of the narrowest harbour entries in its history, manoeuvring through a small strait to reach Oslo.

The UK and Norwegian ministers were meeting their colleagues from Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Poland aboard the carrier.

The so-called Northern Group was expected to discuss the war in Ukraine and the security across Europe.

Britain’s Ministry of Defence earlier announced that Ukraine had received Sea King helicopters from the UK.

Ukrainian pilots trained for six weeks with the Royal Navy to carry out search and rescue missions with the Sea Kings, it said.

Mr Wallace also announced the donation of another 10,000 artillery rounds to Ukraine.

“These additional artillery rounds will help Ukraine to secure the land it has reclaimed from Russia in recent weeks,” he said.

Updated: November 23, 2022, 2:42 PM
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