McDonnell Douglas AGM-84 Harpoon Block I: Better than a Whaling Tool

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The idea of anti-ship missile is not new. It began in Germany during World War II, and the United States did made one named ASM-N-2 Bat in 1944.

However the United States Navy was not really into such weapons. For more than 30 years, the only anti-ship weapons stored in aircraft carrier’s armory were bombs and anti-radiation missiles. U.S. Navy began developing anti-ship missiles in 1965, but initially it was for attacking surfaced submarines. The nickname ‘Harpoon’ came after this, since its target is ‘whale’―naval slang for submarine.

However, everything changed since Eliat Shock in 1967. The U.S. Navy recognized that they need dedicated anti-ship missile to enhance striking power of the fleet, so the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo Zumwalt decided to convert Harpoon into a new common ASM for surface ships, aircraft, and submarines.

AGM-84A, the first air-launched variant, entered service in 1979. Later the launch platform extended from P-3C Orion to A-6E WSCI Intruder, F/A-18 Hornet, F-16 Falcon, S-3 Viking and B-52 Stratofortress.


Harpoon uses Teledyne CAE J402-CA-400 turbojet engine for propulsion. It weighs 100 lb (45.4 kg) and provides 600-660 lbf (2.67-2.94 kN) of thrust.

The fuel is 113 lb (51 kg) of JP-5. It was changed to denser JP-10 in AGM-84D, for longer range.

Texas Instruments AN/DSQ-28 J-band active radar seeker is used for Harpoon’s terminal guidance. The seeker provides effective target acquisition and tracking up to sea state 5.

Harpoon uses 488 lb (221 kg) WDU-18/B penetrating blast-fragmentation warhead containing 215 lb (97.5 kg) of Destex.


Harpoon uses inertial navigation and active radar homing for guidance. After launch, Harpoon descend to cruise altitude of 50-200 ft (15-60 m). And when the radar seeker finds a target, the missile descend to sea-skimming altitude of 5-20 ft (1.5-6 m).

There are two terminal attack mode: pop-up and sea-skimming. The Block 1 AGM-84A is pop-up only and Block 1B AGM-84C is sea-skimming only. Block 1C AGM-84D is selectable between the two.

Length: 151.5 in (389.8 cm)
Diameter: 13.5 in (34.3 cm)
Wingspan: 36 in (91.4 cm)
Weight (AGM-84A):

  • Initial: 1,210 lb (548.8 kg)
  • Burnout: 1,096 lb (497.1 kg)

Wing area: 253.13 in² (1,633 cm²)
Control surface area: 98.89 in² (638 cm²)
Propulsion: J402-CA-400

  • Thrust: 600-660 lbf (2.67-2.94 kN)
  • Thrust specific fuel consumption: 1.2-1.58 lb/lbf·h (0.12-0.16 kg/N·h)

Fuel capacity: 113.24 lb (51.4 kg)

  • Fuel:
    • JP-5 (AGM-84A/C)
    • JP-10 (AGM-84D)

Warhead: WDU-18/B

  • Explosive type: Destex
  • Explosive mass: 215 lb (97.5 kg)

Seeker: AN/DSQ-28 monopulse active radar

  • Frequency: J band (Ku band)
  • Gimbal limit: ±45°
  • Power:
    • Peak: 35 kW
    • Average: 684 W

Guidance: inertial navigation + active radar homing
Maximum cruise speed: Mach 0.85

  • AGM-84A/C: 60 NM (111 km)
  • AGM-84D: 120 NM (222 km)

1 Like


+1, well made suggestion. It’s only a matter of time before they come to the game