India Requests Harpoon II Missiles
Sometimes, an order request is just an order request. Sometimes, as seen in Singapore, it amounts to more than that. In September 2008, the US DSCA announced India’s official request to buy a package of 24 L-model Harpoon Block II ship-killing missiles, with added GPS guidance and littoral/ land attack capabilities, for up to $170 million.
India’s rival Pakistan is already arming its P-3 Orions with AGM-84Ls, so regional stability wasn’t an issue, but the exact match for India’s missiles remained a mystery for a while. The order seemed to presage a buy of P-8i Sea Control and Surveillance aircraft, and India did indeed end up choosing Boeing’s 737 derivative. In September 2010, however, reports indicated that the deal was really focused on India’s fleet of Jaguar IM strike aircraft. Now, in 2010, comes a request specifically aimed at India’s forthcoming P-8is…
Contracts & Key Events
Dec 21/10: The US DSCA announces [PDF] India’s formal request for up to 21 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II Missiles, 5 ATM-84L Block II Training Missiles, Captive Air Training Missiles, containers, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, and related U.S. Government and contractor support. The estimated cost is up to $200 million, and this request is very explicit about their use:
“India intends to use the missiles on its Indian Navy P-8I Neptune maritime patrol aircraft which will provide enhanced capabilities in effective defense of critical sea lines of communication. India has already purchased HARPOON Block II missiles for integration on the Indian Air Force Jaguar aircraft and will have no difficulty absorbing these weapons into its armed forces.”
The P-8i is known as the Poseidon in the USA – “Neptune” was the Roman name for the same Greek deity. The prime contractors will be The Boeing Company in St. Louis, MO, and Delex Systems Incorporated in Vienna, VA. Implementation of this proposed sale will require annual trips to India involving U.S. Government and contractor representatives for technical reviews, support, and oversight on for approximately 5 years. Details of a potential industrial offset agreement in connection with the proposed sale were not known when the DSCA made the announcement. See also Tehelka.
Sept 2/10: India’s Economic Times reports that India signed a deal with Boeing for 24 Harpoon Block II missiles in late July 2010, but says the missiles will equip its its Jaguar strike aircraft. The paper quotes Boeing defence, space and security’s India head Vivek Lall, who says that no agreement had been reached yet with regard to supplying the missile for P-8I. That will be a separate Foreign Military Sale case.
India is believed to possess about 10 Jaguar IM maritime strike variant fighters in No.6 Squadron, which have been upgraded over the years with IAI ELta’s EL/M-2032 radar and improved electronic defense systems. At present, the Jaguars are limited to carrying 1980s-vintage Sea Eagle missiles, and their land attack capabilities have not kept pace, either. Adding the Block II Harpoons, with their dual sea-land attack capabilities, will make the Jaguar IM fleet a potent maritime threat once again.
Sept 9/08: The US DSCA announces [PDF] India’s official request to buy 20 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II missiles with GPS guidance and improved near-shore capabilities; 4 ATM-84L Harpoon Block II Exercise missiles; containers; training devices; spare and repair parts; supply/technical support; support equipment; personnel training and training equipment; technical data and publications; U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistics support.
The estimated cost is $170 million, and Boeing in St. Louis, MO would be the prime contractor. Surprisingly, there are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale, and implementation of this proposed sale will not require the long-term assignment of any additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives to India.
At the time, DID wrote:
“The AGM-84L is the air-launched version of the Harpoon, which immediately raises questions. That missile – and especially its GPS-capable version – is not currently integrated with any of the aircraft in India’s current inventory, which are Russian (MiG-21/27/29, SU-30MKI, TU-142M Bear), French (Mirage 2000, Jaguar), or British (Sea Harrier). India also has its own Indo-Russian BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, and an air-launched version for their large SU-30MKI fighters and TU-95 maritime patrol aircraft is currently in development and testing.
A Harpoon buy appears to make little sense. On the other hand, Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon aircraft could carry them without requiring an expensive integration project, something that is not true for India’s existing Russian and French missiles. Which adds fuel to the rumors that a $2 billion deal for the 737-derived P-8A long-range maritime patrol aircraft is close.”
India did end up ordering the P-8i, but subsequent reports indicate that the missiles are meant to improve the strike capabilities of India’s Franco-British Jaguar fighters instead.