Post NSG waiver and in anticipation of ratification of India-US Nuclear pact in the US congress, the USA on Tuesday (9th Sept’08) issued 170 million USD sale notification of Harpoon Block II missiles and associated equipments and services to India, coinciding with the visit of Indian Defense Minister A.K.Antony to Washington and amid expectation of broad strategic and military ties between the two countries in coming years.
As per the notification-the proposed sale made at New Delhi’s request- “ Will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the US by helping to improve the security of an important partner and to strengthen the US-Indian strategic relationship, which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace and economic progress in the South Asia.”
The announcement also said India intends to use the missiles to modernize its airforce’s anti-Surface Warfare Missions capabilities and to improve its naval operational flexibility. The unit cost of the missile system is stated to be about $200,000 million.
Harpoon Block II is an all weather anti-ship missile that can be lunched from surface, ships, submarines and even aircrafts. At a top speed of 850 Km (0.7 Mach) the missile has a striking capability over a maximum range of 124 Km (67 nautical miles).
Political observers in India feel that the deal was also a warning of sorts to Pakistan who has recently jolted USA by briefly denying US-NATO supplies to Afghanistan in the fight against terror.