US clears sale of Harpoon missiles, torpedoes for India’s P-8I aircraft
The US State Department has cleared two deals to sell India Harpoon Block II air launched missiles and lightweight torpedoes worth $ 155 million. The anti-ship missiles and the torpedoes would be integrated with the P-8I aircraft, also called the “submarine killer”.
The 10 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II air launched missiles that have a range of about 124 km is estimated to cost $ 92 million. The 16 MK 54 All Up Round Lightweight Torpedoes and three MK 54 Exercise Torpedoes are expected to cost $ 63 million, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in two separate notifications to the Congress.
According to the Pentagon, the Harpoon missile system will be integrated into the P-8I aircraft to conduct anti-surface warfare missions in defence of critical sea lanes while enhancing interoperability with the United States and other allied forces.
“India will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense. India will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces,” the Pentagon said.
The proposed sale, it said, will improve India’s capability to meet current and future threats from enemy weapon systems.
The Harpoon missiles will be manufactured by Boeing and will be integrated into the P-8I aircraft, the Indian variant of Boeing’s P-8s. This is a multi-mission aircraft designed for long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission.
The 3.84 metre long missile has a 500-pound penetration, high-explosive blast warhead that gives it enough firepower to destroy coastal defence and surface-to-air missile sites, industrial installations and docked ships.
According to the Pentagon, this proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the US-India strategic relationship and to improve the security of a major defensive partner, which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region.
China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas. Beijing has also made substantial progress in militarising its manmade islands in the past few years, which it says it has the right to defend, according to news agency PTI.
China claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea. But Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims. In the East China Sea, Beijing has territorial disputes with Japan.
The South China Sea and the East China Sea are stated to be rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources. They are also vital to global trade.