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Harpoon Missile - Versatile Weapon

Missile is adapted for use across the U.S. military.


Harpoon Missile - Versatile Weapon
Updated May 27, 2011

The Harpoon is an effective guided missile used against enemy naval ships and large boats.

Naval Weapon

The Harpoon missile has been one of the primary weapons used by the U.S. Navy since it first entered service in 1977. In 2007, McDonnell Douglas, the missile’s manufacturer, delivered their 7,000th Harpoon missile to the U.S. Navy. The Harpoon missile uses a combination of radar homing device and sea-skimming cruise trajectory to effectively evade detection and hit its intended targets. The Harpoon missile has earned a reputation for deadly accuracy.

Harpoon missiles are typically fired from naval warships and used to hit enemy ships and boats. Since entering service, Harpoon missiles have seen action around the world in places such as Iran, Iraq, Libya and Pakistan. Each missile weighs about 500 pounds and can travel at a maximum speed of 537 miles per hour.


The Harpoon missile has proved to be very adaptable. Over the years, it has been adapted so that the missile can be fired from submarines, B52-H bombers and fighter jets such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon. The weapon’s adaptability makes the Harpoon missile one of the most widely used missiles across the U.S. military. Many other countries around the world also use Harpoon missiles, or variations on the weapon, including Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel and Japan.

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