Sunday, September 5, 2010

India signs deal for Harpoon Block II missiles with US

BANGALORE: India has signed an agreement with the US government to purchase 24 Harpoon Block II missiles for its Jaguar strike aircraft, in a bid to ramp up its maritime warfare capability.

Boeing country head, defence, space and security, Mr Vivek Lall told ET, “the deal was successfully concluded through the Foreign Military Sales route late last month, with Boeing as the prime contractor. The missiles are for the Indian Air Force’s maritime strike squadron.”

The deal, expected to be worth about $170 million, has been on the cards for over two years now, with the Bush administration having wheeled out a sales notification during defence minister A K Antony’s visit to Washington in 2008. The US had also sold the same missiles to Pakistan.

The Harpoon Block II is the latest version of the subsonic missile and is able to strike land-based targets and ships. It is an all-weather, over the horizon, anti-ship missile which can be launched from surface ships, submarines and aircraft.

However, Lall said no agreement had been reached yet with regard to supplying the missile for P-8I, India’s long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft. The P-8I is scheduled for delivery in 2013.

“The final weapons package for the P-8I is yet to be decided, and will again be sold through the FMS route,” he said.

According to the latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor General, the attack capability of the Navy’s depleted fighter aircraft fleet has been significantly eroded, as they have not been kept in full combat readiness, with the bombs fitted having become obsolescent.

Mr Lall said the Phase II of the Apache and Chinook helicopter programmes for the IAF will be held in the US later in the year. Phase II will involve weapons integration field trials for both choppers.

The Economic Times

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