The US government plans to sell 22 anti-ship Harpoon missiles to India, at an estimated cost of $200 million, in a new initiative to strengthen US-India strategic relationship.
The US administration has notified the US Congress of its decision to approve India's request for the missiles (See: Pentagon notifies Congress of $200-mn Harpoon missile sale to India).
The announcement coincides US senator McCain's meeting with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi. During high-level talks with the prime minister, the US senator also conveyed the keen desire in the United States to work with Prime Minister Modi to revitalise the India-US strategic partnership.
McCain is reported to have conveyed the high expectations in the United States about a new momentum in India`s economic growth and all-round progress under the new government led by prime minister Narendra Modi.
The Pentagon's Defence Security Cooperation Agency, which handles foreign arms sales, said it had delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale following approval of India's request by the state department.
India, it said, has requested a possible sale of 12 UGM-84L Harpoon Block II Encapsulated Missiles, 10 UTM-84L Harpoon Encapsulated Training missiles, two Encapsulated Harpoon certification training vehicles, containers, spare and repair parts.
Besides, India has also sought support and test equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, services of the US government and contractor engineering and logistics support services and other related elements of logistics support.
The estimated cost of the whole package is $200 million.
"This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the US-India strategic relationship and to improve the security of an important partner which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in South Asia," the Pentagon's arms sales agency said.
The Harpoon missile system will be employed on the Indian Navy's Shishumar class submarine (Type-209) to enhance capabilities in defence of critical sea lines of communication.
India has already purchased Harpoon missiles for integration on Indian Air Force Jaguar aircraft and Indian Navy P-8I maritime patrol aircraft. India will have no difficulty absorbing these additional missiles into its armed forces, the agency said.
"This proposed sale of Harpoon missiles will not alter the basic military balance in the region," and "there will be no adverse impact on US defence readiness as a result of this proposed sale", it said.
The principal contractors will be the Boeing Company in St Louis, Missouri; and Delex Systems Inc, in Vienna, Virginia.
While a foreign defence contractor is expected to conclude offset agreements with the Indian government in accordance with the country's defence procurement policy, the agency said, no offset agreement is currently known to have been proposed in connection with this potential sale.
During talks with Senator McCain, the Indian prime minister is also reported to have conveyed his desire to further deepen and expand the strategic partnership, based on our shared values and interests, sensitivity to each other`s concerns, and, tangible progress across the full spectrum of bilateral relations.
The prime minister also observed that success of democratic countries and their cooperation will advance peace, stability and prosperity in the world. Modi hoped for a forward looking, result-oriented visit to the United States in September 2014 to take the relationship to a new level.
The two also discussed the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the increasing spread of terrorism across countries.
The meeting came amid reports that a US court approved NSA carrying out surveillance on the now-ruling Indian political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party. India has reacted strongly over the alleged spying by the US and has said that such acts were unacceptable.
The government has sought assurance from the US that this will not happen again.
McCain also conveyed the US' keen desire to work with Modi to boost the India-US strategic partnership. Modi in turn said that he was keen on his visit to the US in September and would like to work together to strengthen relations.