Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Copyright © 2002 Andreas Parsch

Kongsberg AGM-119 Penguin

The Penguin is a Norwegian ship-, coast- and (in later versions) air-launched anti-ship weapon, which was developed in the 1960s as NATO's first modern dedicated anti-ship guided missile. An air-launched variant is also used by the U.S. Navy under the designation AGM-119.

Development of the original Penguin Mk 1 began in the mid-1960s by the Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk (later renamed Norsk Forsvarsteknologi, and still later Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (as a division of Kongsberg Gruppen)) in Norway, helped by financial support from the U.S. Navy. It was designed for use from small missile boats and coastal batteries and entered service with the Royal Norwegian Navy in 1972. Because the Scandinavian coastal waters with its deep narrow fjords would have presented the radars of the time with too much clutter, the Penguin used infrared homing only. Initial bearing and speed data on the target was provided before launch by the launch platform's sensors and fire-control system. The additional advantage of the passive IR homing was the reduced warning time for the attacked ship. The missile used the 113 kg (250 lb) MK 19 warhead very similar to that used by the AGM-12 Bullpup missile. The Penguin Mk 1 is no longer in service.

The Penguin Mk 2 is a ship-launched missile with significantly extended range (30 km (16 nm) compared to the Mk 1's 20 km (11 nm)) for indirect attacks. Mk 2 entered service in 1980, the most important of the original versions being the Mk 2 Mod 3 and the Mk 2 Mod 5 with an improved seeker. The latest Penguin version, the Mk 2 Mod 7, is actually newer than the Mk 3 and is therefore described below the latter.

Photo: DOD
AGM-119B (Penguin Mk 2 Mod 7)

The Penguin Mk 3 is an air-launched variant specifically designed for use by the Royal Norwegian Air Force's F-16 fighters. After studies in the late 1970s, a full-scale development contract was awarded in 1982 and the first live firings occurred in 1984. The Mk 3 entered service with the Royal Norwegian Air Force in 1987. It was also successfully evaluated by the U.S. Air Force as AGM-119A, but this version was not adopted for service with the U.S. armed forces. Compared to the Mk 2, the Penguin Mk 3 has a longer body, shorter wings, increased range and uses a digital flight control system. It can be fired from a distance of up to 40 km (22 nm) in the general direction of the target, and programmed before launch for several different target search patterns. If launched over land, it can be programmed to enter very low-level "sea-skimming" flight mode at a certain waypoint. It uses an inertial navigation system and a radar altimeter for mid-course guidance, and activates its IR terminal seeker when entering the search pattern.

The latest version of Penguin is the Mk 2 Mod 7. In January 1986, the U.S. Navy and the Royal Norwegian Navy signed a contract about the adaption of the Mk 2 Mod 3 missile to the SH-60B Seahawk helicopter. The resulting Mk 2 Mod 7, designated AGM-119B by the U.S. Navy, uses several Mk 3 components like the IR seeker and the digital signal processor. The most important external difference to older Mk 2 variants are the folding wings for compact carriage by the SH-60B. The AGM-119B also received a new WDU-39/B SAP warhead, which is reprotedly also refitted to AGM-119A/Mk 3 missiles (the earlier MK 19 warhead of the Penguin has possibly received the U.S. designation WDU-32/B). A captive-carry (non-launching) training version of the missile is known as CATM-119B. The AGM-119B achieved Initial Operational Capability with the U.S. Navy in 1994.

Photo: U.S. Navy

About 1200 Penguin missiles have been built, including more about 100 AGM-119Bs for the U.S. Navy.


Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!

Data for Penguin Mk 1, AGM-119A (Mk 3), AGM-119B (Mk 2 Mod 7):

 Mk 1AGM-119AAGM-119B
Length2.95 m (9 ft 8 in)3.18 m (10 ft 5 in)2.96 m (9 ft 8.5 in)
Wingspan1.42 m (4 ft 8 in)1.00 m (3 ft 3 in)1.42 m (4 ft 8 in)
Diameter28 cm (11 in)
Weight330 kg (730 lb)370 kg (820 lb)365 kg (805 lb)
SpeedMach 0.7Mach 0.8
Range20 km (11 nm)> 40 km (22 nm)28 km (15 nm)
PropulsionSolid-fueled rocketMK 44 MOD 1 solid-fueled rocket
Warhead113 kg (250 lb) MK 19 semi-armour-piercing 120 kg (265 lb) WDU-39/B semi-armour-piercing

Main Sources

[1] Norman Friedman: "World Naval Weapons Systems, 1997/98", Naval Institute Press, 1997
[2] Bill Gunston: "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rockets and Missiles", Salamander Books Ltd, 1979
[3] Christopher Chant: "World Encyclopaedia of Modern Air Weapons", Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1988
[4] Hajime Ozu: "Missile 2000 - Reference Guide to World Missile Systems", Shinkigensha, 2000
[5] Bernard Blake (ed.): "Jane's Weapon Systems 1987-88", Jane's, 1988

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Last Updated: 9 November 2002