TINKER HISTORY: Boeing AGM- 84A/D ‘Harpoon’ missile

  • Published
  • By Greg L. Davis
  • 72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The AGM-84A/D Air Launch Cruise Missile is an air breathing missile capable of sustaining high subsonic flight using Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System guidance. The missile was originally developed for the U.S. Navy capable of being launched from land, submarines and surface ships in the anti-ship role. It was later adapted for air-launch use with the Navy’s P-3 Orion. After being successfully integrated into the P-3 fleet, the missile was adapted for use with the U.S. Air Force B-52G/H Stratofortress in 1983.


Tinker’s role with the AGM-84 Harpoon missile is the sustainment, repair and overhaul of the small J402 turbojet engine along with continuing software upgrades.


When the missile was developed for Air Force B-52 units by direction of Strategic Air Command leaders, it was initially fielded with just two units whose operating locations coincided with the B-52Gs potential for an anti-ship role with the 42nd Bombardment Wing, Loring Air Force Base, Maine, and the 43rd Bombardment Wing, Andersen AFB, Guam. As the G-model was retired following Desert Storm, the Harpoon anti-ship capabilities were transferred to the B-52H of the 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale AFB, La., and then finally to Minot AFB, N.D.


According to Boeing’s fact sheet, the Harpoon “is the world’s most successful anti-ship missile and is in service with the armed forces of more than 30 countries.” The missile is being continually tested and upgraded with the latest advances incorporated into AGM-84 Harpoon Block II, also known as standoff land attack missile and the SLAM-expanded response missile.


There have been more than 7,000 AGM-84 Harpoon missiles delivered during the life of the program.


Manufacturer: Boeing

Missile type: AGM-84A/D

Nickname: Harpoon

Power plant: Solid-propellant booster, Teledyne J402 air-breathing turbojet engine (cruise)

In-service dates: 1972-present

Number produced: More than 7,000

Tinker connection: management, maintenance and repair