Tuesday, September 9, 2008

US offers India $170 mn deal for sale of 24 harpoon missiles

WASHINGTON: The US has offered India a $170 million deal for the sale of two dozen Harpoon air to ground anti-ship missiles to modernise its air force anti-surface warfare mission capabilities and improve its naval operational flexibility.

The Pentagon announced the possible sale of the Harpoon missiles to India as Defence minister A K Antony met his US counterpart Robert Gates Tuesday "to discuss ways to deepen the bilateral security cooperation and exchange views on regional and international issues of mutual interest."

There was no official word from the Indian side but the Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said it had notified the Pentagon of the possible Foreign Military Sale to India of Harpoon Block II Missiles as well as associated equipment and services. Such a deal would be worth as much as 170 million dollars. "The Government of India has requested a possible sale of 20 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II missiles and 4 ATM-84L Harpoon Block II Exercise missiles," the agency said.

"This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of an important partner and to strengthen the US-India strategic relationship, which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in South Asia," it said. "India intends to use the Harpoon missiles to modernise its Air Force Anti-Surface Warfare mission capabilities and improve its naval operational flexibility.

"The missiles will assist the Indian Navy to develop and enhance standardisation and operational ability with the United States. India will have no difficulty absorbing these missiles into its armed forces," DSCA said. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale, it said. The prime contractor will be The Boeing Company of St. Louis, Missouri.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not affect the basic military balance in the region. There will also be no adverse impact on US defence readiness, DSCA said. The Harpoon is an all weather, subsonic, over the horizon, anti-ship missile which can be launched from surface ships, submarines and aircraft.

The Harpoon Block II is the latest version of the Harpoon missile and is able to strike land-based targets and ships in littoral environments. The Harpoon Block II missile can discriminate target ships from islands and other nearby land masses. The Block II is fully compatible with current operating Harpoon platforms with no modifications required.

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