What are MK 54 torpedoes, AGM-84L Harpoon missiles US has cleared for sale to India

Context

  • The US Department of State approved a possible Foreign Military Sale to India of 16 MK 54 all round up lightweight torpedoes and related equipment at an estimated cost of $63 million. In addition, in another deal, the US approved the possible sale to India of ten AGM-84L Harpoon Block II air-launched missiles and related equipment at an estimated cost of $92 million.
  • The principal contractor for the first deal is Raytheon Integrated Defense System based in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, while Boeing is the principal contractor for the equipment in the second deal.
  • India plans to use the equipment requested in both the deals on the Indian Navy’s Boeing P-8I maritime aircraft.

The P-8I aircraft

  • Boeing’s P-8s are designed for long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The P-8s India version is called the P-8I, and helps the Indian Navy carry out important maritime operations.
  • According to Boeing, the aircraft can surpass 25,000 flight hours, and gives the Navy a significant edge in the strategically important Indian Ocean.
  • India currently has eight of these aircraft and is scheduled to receive four more by 2022. One of these is expected to be delivered this year. In June 2019, the Ministry of Defence placed an order for ten more of these aircraft.
  • The aircraft has a length of 40 meters and can fly at a speed of 789 km/hour. They are stationed at INS Rajali and a secondary station is being set up at INS Kochi.

What is the MK 54 lightweight torpedo?

  • Previously, the MK 54 lightweight torpedo was known as the Lightweight Hybrid Torpedo (LHT). It weighs around 608 pounds, while its warhead weighs around 96.8 pounds and is highly explosive. These torpedoes are used by US surface ships, fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters and are their primary anti-submarine warfare weapon.
  • According to the US Director Operational Test and Evaluation, the primary use of this equipment is for offensive purposes when deployed by anti-submarine warfare aircraft and helicopters, and for defensive purposes when deployed by ships and against fast, deep-diving nuclear submarines and slow-moving, quiet, diesel-electric submarines.

What are AGM-84L Harpoon Block II air-launched missiles?

  • As per the DSCA press release, “The Harpoon missile system will be integrated into the P-8I aircraft to conduct anti-surface warfare missions in defense 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.”
  • According to Boeing, the Harpoon was initially developed for the US Navy in 1983 and was later adapted for use on the B-52H bombers. The Harpoon was first deployed in 1977 and is an all-weather, over-the-horizon, anti-ship missile system. This missile is being used by Armed forces in over 30 countries across the world and Boeing has delivered over 7,000 Harpoon missiles to date.
  • Further, the Harpoon missile uses GPS-aided inertial navigation to hit the designated target. Its warhead weighs over 500 pounds and is capable of delivering lethal firepower against targets, including land-based targets, coastal defence sites, surface-to-air missile sites, exposed aircraft and industrial or port facilities.

Source:IE