Continuing to provide cutting edge equipment to its ally India, the US has notified the possible sale of 10 Harpoon missiles and also 16 MK 54 Torpedoes coupled with three MK 54 exercise Torpedoes kits, collectively costing $ 155 Million ( approx Rs 1162 crore)
The AGM-84L Harpoon Block II air launched anti-ship missiles and related equipment will cost $92 million while the MK 54 anti-submarine torpedoes and the associated kits will cost $ 63 million.
The US State Department has approved both the deals under the Foreign Military Sale (FMS) route. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) delivered the required certifications notifying Congress of this possible sale. The actual sale will be done after Congress approval. Read the Harpoon notification here. Read the MK 54 torpedo notification here
The Harpoons and the MK 54 torpedoes are for use by Indian Navy on its fleet of additional four Boeing P8I. Deliveries of the planes were slated to commence April-2020, but with the world gripped by Covid-19 and with India under lock down, a new the schedule could be worked out.
The Government of India had requested to buy the Harpoons. Also included are containers, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, Specialized Assignment Airlift Missions (SAAM).
U.S. Government and contractor representatives technical assistance, engineering, and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated program cost is $92 million. The principal contractor will be the Boeing Company.
The State Department also approved a possible sale of 16 of the MK 54 all up round Lightweight Torpedoes (LWT); three exercise torpedoes and related equipment for an estimated cost of $63 million.
This will include MK 54 spare parts; torpedo containers; two Recoverable Exercise Torpedoes (REXTORP) with containers; Fleet Exercise Section (FES) and fuel tanks built into MK 54 LWT Kits; air launch accessories for fixed wing; spare parts; training, publications; support and test equipment.
The principal contractor will be Raytheon Integrated Defense System.
Why the sale to India
This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the U.S.-Indian strategic relationship.
The proposed sale will improve India’s capability to meet current and future threats from enemy weapon systems. The Harpoon missile system will be integrated into the P-8I aircraft to conduct anti-surface warfare missions in defense of critical sea lanes while enhancing interoperability with the United States and other allied forces.
The MK 54 Lightweight Torpedo will provide the capability to conduct anti-submarine warfare missions. India will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense. India intends to utilize MK 54 Lightweight Torpedoes on its P-8I aircraft.
How the plane helps India
The P-8I capabilities are vast, it conducts anti-submarine warfare , anti-surface warfare , and shipping interdiction, along with electronic signals intelligence (ELINT) role. This involves carrying torpedoes, depth charges, SLAM-ER missiles,
The P-8I variant features two major components, a Telephonics APS-143 OceanEye aft radar and a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD).
The Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) provided Data Link communications allows the P-8I to exchanging tactical data between Indian Navy aircraft, ships and shore establishments.
India had originally ordered eight such planes at a cost of US $ 2.1 Billion and it ordered four more in 2015. The planes are used for patrolling the Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOC’s) extending east and west of peninsular India. The plane is potent for maritime reconnaissance and at the same time has capability for anti submarine and anti ship warfare and various operations.
The Boeing P-8I is a derivative of the P-8A used by the United States Navy. The aircraft is developed by Boeing Defence, Space & Security, modified from the commercial planes 737-800ERX.