Boeing Lands Major Missile Contracts

 - May 15, 2020, 12:38 PM
An F-15E Strike Eagle testbed is seen during trials with the SLAM ER missile. (Photo: Boeing)

Boeing received two contacts on May 13 covering two variants from the AGM-84 missile family. Combined with a related, previously announced order, the contracts have a combined value of $3.1 billion. Naval Air Systems Command is the contracting activity for the orders, which answer the requirements of a number of Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers.

The larger of the two contracts covers the supply of 650 AGM-84K Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM ER) for the Royal Saudi Air Force, to equip its F-15SA Eagle aircraft. It is the first export order for this variant for some time, the weapons first being supplied to South Korea for carriage by the air force’s F-15K “Slam Eagles”. The $1.97 billion contract also includes funding for non-recurring engineering associated with the SLAM ER. This work is due for completion by the end of 2028.

The second contract, valued at $657 million, calls for the delivery of 467 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II Lot 91 anti-ship missiles to a range of FMS customers by the end of 2026. Saudi Arabia is the biggest recipient, slated to receive 402, while Qatar is to get 53, Thailand eight, and Brazil four. The contract also includes support equipment for India, Japan, the Netherlands, and South Korea.

What was then McDonnell Douglas delivered the first Harpoon anti-ship missile in 1977, and has delivered more than 7,500 since then to the U.S. and a large number of allies. As well as the AGM-84 air-launched version, the sea-skimming missile comes in RGM-84 ship-launched and UGM-84 submarine-launched forms. Pre-revolutionary Iran was one of the early recipients, and in 1980 it achieved the first combat success of the weapon when RGM-84s sank two Iraqi patrol vessels. The Harpoon has been successively updated and remains the primary anti-ship missile in the West.

Boeing further developed the AGM-84E SLAM weapon for attacking land targets, replacing the Harpoon’s active radar seeker with an imaging infrared seeker that transmitted imagery back to an AWW-13 two-way datalink pod on the launch aircraft. A few were fired during the 1991 Gulf War, and it was also used during the Balkans campaign.

A further adaptation resulted in the AGM-84H SLAM ER, with pop-out wings that extended the range to around 150 miles. It also featured more advanced guidance options, including “man-in-the-loop” direct flying, and automatic target acquisition. It was the world’s first weapon to have this latter function. Further development led to the current AGM-84K version. As well as the procurement of new-build weapons, most of the U.S. Navy's AGM-84E SLAMs were upgraded to SLAM-ER configuration

Since 2019 Boeing has been building a new 35,000-square foot manufacturing facility at its St. Charles site in Missouri to cater to increased production rates of AGM-84 versions. The new factory is expected to be ready next year.