The US government has cleared the Block-II version of the Harpoon anti-shipping and anti-surface missile to India.
According to Christopher M Chadwick, Boeing's vice president and general manager for Global Strike Solutions, the Indian Air Force (IAF) had recently floated a tender for an unspecified number of anti-ship missiles and that it is responding to that with the offer to sell Harpoons to India.
The missile has an all-weather, day and night capability, and a range of about 60 nautical miles. It can hit ships and land targets like ports, as also submarines on the surface. It can be fired from a variety of aircraft - combat jets like Jaguars, Su-30 MKI, F-18 or F-16, or transport aircraft like Boeing-737 if configured for such a role.
The sea-skimming missile, which carries a 500-pound blast warhead, can also be fired from ships and submarines, and accordingly offers commonality to both the air force and navy.
According to available information, the French MBDA Exocet, which the Indian forces already possess, is the only other match to the Harpoon. It has also been upgraded since it was first developed in the 1970s.
Notably, MBDA is supplying missiles to the Indian Navy for the Scorpene submarines it is to soon acquire.
The Harpoon was used extensively in the two wars against Iraq. Nearly 7,500 units of this advanced missile have been sold worldwide since it was first launched in 1977 by McDonald Douglas, a company that merged into Boeing.
Chadwick said that Boeing was also hopeful of selling its Multi Mission Maritime Reconnaissance (MMR) aircraft - based in the Boeing-737 platform - to India, and that the Harpoon would naturally be fitted on that.