India Will Get Harpoon Block II Missiles From US

BANGALORE:
India has signed an agreement with the US government to purchase 24 Harpoon
Block II missiles for its Jaguar strike aircraft.

Boeing country head, defence, space and
security, Mr Vivek Lall told ET, “the deal was successfully concluded
through the Foreign Military Sales route late last month, with Boeing as the
prime contractor. The missiles are for the Indian Air Force’s maritime
strike squadron.”

The deal, expected to be worth about $170
million, has been on the cards for over two years now, with the Bush
administration having wheeled out a sales notification during defence minister A
K Antony’s visit to Washington in 2008. The US had also sold the same
missiles to Pakistan.

The Harpoon Block II is the latest version of
the subsonic missile and is able to strike land-based targets and ships. It is
an all-weather, over the horizon, anti-ship missile which can be launched from
surface ships, submarines and aircraft.

However, Lall said no
agreement had been reached yet with regard to supplying the missile for P-8I,
India’s long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare
aircraft. The P-8I is scheduled for delivery in 2013.

“The
final weapons package for the P-8I is yet to be decided, and will again be sold
through the FMS route,” he said.

According to the latest
report of the Comptroller and Auditor General, the attack capability of the
Navy’s depleted fighter aircraft fleet has been significantly eroded, as
they have not been kept in full combat readiness, with the bombs fitted having
become obsolescent.

Mr Lall said the Phase II of the Apache and
Chinook helicopter programmes for the IAF will be held in the US later in the
year. Phase II will involve weapons integration field trials for both
choppers.