The Navy's warships might soon only be able to offer advisory support in military hotspots around the world, as one of their key weapon systems is getting unbolted and popped into storage to save money.
The changes announced by the government will see the Harpoon anti-ship surface-to-surface missile removed, leaving ships without the ability to attack their enemies, should it all kick off on the seas at any point over the next decade or so. This leaves the fleet of frigates and destroyers without a key element in their arsenal -- the ability to attack other ships from afar.
But it's OK, the ships will still have guns, so they'll be able to shoot things that are near, like dolphins, dinghies full of refugees, tsunamis and whatever else they get out at sea these days.
The reality is at least a two-year gap. The Harpoons are set to retire in 2018, to be replaced, sort of, by the helicopter-based "Sea Venom" missile system, that should be ready for service by 2020. Giving the Russians and the Chinese a nice two-year window to claim superiority of the seas. [The Register]