Missiles of the United Kingdom

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The United Kingdom is one of the world’s five recognized nuclear powers, and its military possesses a capable arsenal of air- and submarine-launched cruise and ballistic missiles. Maintaining a continuous at sea deterrent (CASD) since April 1969, the United Kingdom deploys at least one of its four Vanguard-class submarines carrying nuclear-armed Trident D-5 ballistic missiles at all times to maintain what the UK’s defense strategy calls “the minimum amount of destructive power needed to deter any aggressor.” In service since 1992, the UK is working to replace the Vanguard-class submarines with the new Dreadnought-class beginning in the early 2030s.

The United Kingdom is presently engaged in long-term acquisitions of complex conventional missile systems. In 2010 the Ministry of Defense signed a 10-year Portfolio Management Agreement with MBDA Missile Systems to manage acquisition goals, which is believed to have saved the country as much as £1 billion. The development of new advanced air- and sea-launched cruise missiles such as the Storm Shadow, Spear 3, and Brimstone Sea Spear are chief examples of the UK’s capability in advanced precision guided munitions.


Missile Name Class Range Status
Brimstone Air-to-surface 8 - 60 km Operational
Harpoon ASCM 90 - 240 km Operational
PGM-500 / PGM-2000 Air-to-surface 15 - 50 km Operational
SCALP EG / Storm Shadow ALCM 550 km Operational
SPEAR 3 ALCM 120-140 km In development
Trident D5 SLBM 12,000 km Operational
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Missile Defense Project, "Missiles of the United Kingdom," Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 14, 2018, last modified March 3, 2021, https://missilethreat.csis.org/country/united-kingdom/.