Feature Story

Locked & Loaded

U.S. Navy ordnance technicians at NAS Patuxent River make a final inspection of four Harpoon missiles on a Boeing built F/A-18F Super Hornet

Fred Troilo/Boeing

U.S. Navy ordnance technicians at NAS Patuxent River make a final inspection of four Harpoon missiles on a Boeing built F/A-18F Super Hornet before making the milestone flight.

On runway 24 of U.S. Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Maryland, a part of Boeing Harpoon missile history was recently witnessed when four of the proven Harpoon Block IC cruise missiles were uploaded onto a Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet to undergo a rigorous flight test over the Atlantic Ocean. The test verified flight characteristics with the quad load-out; a Harpoon first.

The test was performed jointly by members of the U.S. Navy’s VX-23 Strike Test squadron, PMA-201 Precision Strike Weapons team, Boeing Test & Evaluation and Weapons & Missile Systems businesses.

“There’s probably nothing that has to be more perfect than weapons integration and performance,” said James Dodd, vice president of Boeing Global Strike Weapons & Missile Systems. “It puts everyone at a high sense of perfection as to how they do their job on the Boeing side and the customer side.”

The Harpoon Block IC missile is an autonomous, all weather anti-ship and land strike weapon that can be launched from aircraft, ships, submarines or by mobile coastal defense vehicles. It’s used by more than 30 international allies.

An F/A-18F Super Hornet from U.S. Navy Strike Test VX-23 poised for takeoff with four Boeing built Harpoon missiles under its wings

Fred Troilo/Boeing

An F/A-18F Super Hornet from U.S. Navy Strike Test VX-23 poised for takeoff with four Boeing built Harpoon missiles under its wings.

U.S. Navy CDR. Kevin Quarderer, NAVAIR’s Precision Strike Weapons program office deputy program manager for the Harpoon and SLAM ER programs, said the Boeing and U.S. Navy teams work incredibly close to achieve the levels of perfection dictated by working around ordnance and weapons.

“It’s absolutely serious business,” said CDR. Quarderer. “The only answer that’s acceptable is that every single weapon has got to find its target.”

The flight test with the four Boeing built Harpoon Block IC missiles underneath the wings of the F/A-18 Super Hornet was a success. More integration work proving the capabilities of the missile configuration and fighter attack jet is continuing.