NEW DELHI: The US may soon sell anti-ship Harpoon missiles to India in a `1,000-crore deal to boost the Navy and the Indian Air Force’s maritime warfare capability, signalling strong strategic ties between the two nations.
The Pentagon, the seat of the US Ministry of Defence, has notified the US Congress in Washington DC about its decision to sell the missiles under the foreign military sales route that will be a government-to-government contract. The package deal would include a dozen or more UGM-86L Harpoon Block II encapsulated missiles, 10 UTM-84L encapsulated training missiles and two encapsulated Harpoon certification training vehicles, according to Pentagon’s Defence Security Cooperation Agency.
The Boeing-manufactured Harpoon missile system is for the Navy’s Shishumar class of submarines, otherwise known as the German HDW Class of vessels.
India in 2009 bought Harpoon missiles for the fleet of eight Boeing P8I long-range maritime reconnaissance planes that the Navy had got in a `11,000-crore deal and for the IAF’s Jaguar maritime combat aircraft.
India will have no difficulty absorbing these additional missiles into its armed forces, the Pentagon said in its notification. “This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the US by helping to strengthen the US-India strategic relationship and to improve the security of an important partner which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in South Asia,” the Pentagon said.
The proposed sale of Harpoon missiles will not alter the basic military balance in the region, it said in obvious reference to Pakistan, which has concerns over American arms sales to India.
“In accordance with the Indian Defence Procurement Policy, a contractor may be expected to conclude offset agreements with the Government of India but no offset agreement is currently known to have been proposed in connection with this potential sale,” it added.
The offsets clause in defence deals mandates that the winning global arms manufacturer will have to plough at least 30 percent of the contracted amount, if the value of the sale is worth over `300 crore, back into the Indian defence, aerospace and homeland security market.