T he purchase of 24 Harpoon Block II anti-ship missiles for the Jaguar aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF), agreed earlier this month after being in the works for the past couple of years, was a milestone as it settled the niggling issue of the parameters of the end use monitoring between the Indian and US governments.
After much political controversy in India, the end use monitoring framework was agreed by both governments in July last year, during the visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But it is only with the Harpoon deal that the framework has been tested with both sides agreeing to a compromise that sources in the Indian Ministry of Defense say, will be a model for future such agreements. Indian Defense Minister Arackaparambil Kurian Antony will be visiting the US on a two-day visit next week.
The USD 170 million Harpoon sale also attracted certain ‘enhanced’ end use monitoring requirements that impose more stringent conditions to ensure non-proliferation or leakage of technologies and systems. These typically apply to advanced technologies and weapon systems and also include ‘large aircraft with onboard infra red counter measures’. The three Boeing Business Jet aircraft inducted into the Communications Squadron of the IAF for VIP transportation also attracted similar requirements, which were catered for by stand-alone end use monitoring agreements.
The fact that the end use monitoring of the Harpoon missiles would set a precedent is also the reason why this deal took so long to negotiate. “This was the first agreement that was negotiated under the framework agreed last year so we wanted to make sure our concerns were reflected in it,” said one source in the ministry, who also added, “It would have been virtually impossible to demand a dilution later. But now end use monitoring works for us this way.”
Consequently, this will likely result in the issue being settled for prospective purchases from the US. India has ordered eight P-8I long range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft, six C-130J Super Hercules and is expected to order ten C-17 Globemaster III heavy lift aircraft from the United States. India is also interested in the BAE Systems M777 ultra light howitzer and is trying out the Apache AH-64 attack helicopter and the Chinook heavy left helicopter. Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin’s F-16 are vying for the 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) order of the IAF.
While ministry sources indicate physical verification to have been ruled out, as in the case of the Boeing 737-based Business Jet aircraft, the IAF will periodically certify the accounting of all the Harpoon missiles.
The end use monitoring accord agreed last year saw much political opposition in the Indian Parliament last year. The Indian armed forces too, were far from happy with it.