India Strengthens Naval Deterrence with Potential Harpoon and MK54 Torpedo Acquisitions

On 13 April, 2020, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced that the State Department had approved two Foreign Military Sale deals, with a combined estimated cost of $155 million.

The first deal includes the sale of ten (10) AGM-84L Harpoon Block II air-launched anti-ship missiles and related equipment for an estimated cost of $92 million. The deal also includes containers, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment. As well as Specialized Assignment Airlift Missions (SAAM), US Government and contractor representatives technical assistance, engineering, and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support.

A harpoon missile launches from the missile deck of the littoral combat ship USS Coronado Aug. 22, 2017. (U.S. Navy)

The other deal includes the sale of sixteen (16) MK 54 All Up Round Lightweight Torpedoes (LWT); three (3) MK 54 Exercise Torpedoes and related equipment for an estimated cost of $63 million. The deal includes, several training parts, training publications, support and test equipment, as well as engineer, technical, and logistics support and other related elements of logistics support.

MK 54 Torpedo is launched from the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt April 16, 2014. (U.S. Navy)

As it noted in both announcements; “this proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the US-Indian 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.”

Both deals will improve India’s capabilities; the Harpoon missile system will increase India’s air to surface operational capabilities and the MK 54 Lightweight Torpedo will provide the ability to conduct anti-submarine warfare missions. Both weapon systems will increase India’s deterrence of regional seaborne threats and strengthen its homeland defense.

In both announcements, DSCA were careful to underline that the proposed sales of mentioned equipment and support would not alter the basic military balance in the region.