September 8, 2010:
India is buying 24 Harpoon (AGM-84D) anti-ship missiles, for $1.5 million each. These will be used on their Jaguar attack aircraft. The 546 kg/1,200 pound Harpoon has a 222 kg/487 pound warhead and a range of 220 kilometers. It approaches the target low, at about 860 kilometers an hour. GPS gets the missile to the general vicinity of the target, then radar takes over to identify and hit the target. The Harpoon has successful combat experience going back two decades. Most Chinese and Pakistani warships (corvettes and frigates) are small enough to be destroyed by one Harpoon, which is what the Indians are looking for. .
Two years ago, India selected a local firm (Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd) to upgrade the electronics in 68 of its Jaguar attack aircraft. The avionics upgrade (display attack ranging inertial navigation, or Darin-3, for short) will make these older (20-25 years) Jaguars competitive with more recent models. Many Indian Jaguars have already been updated to handle laser and other smart bombs. The Darin-3 upgrade for each aircraft will cost about $900,000.
The 11 ton Jaguar is a single seat jet that carries two 30mm cannon, and up to 4.5 tons of bombs and missiles. While capable of supersonic speed (1,500 kilometers an hour), most of the time it moves at a little over half that speed. Sorties average about 90 minutes each. India has found the two seat trainer versions useful for complex attack missions, where the second seat is occupied by a weapons systems operator.
The French-British design began as a jet trainer that could also do ground attack. Ultimately, Jaguar proved to be a very useful combat aircraft. India bought over 200 of them, building most of them in India under license. So far, 32 have been lost to accidents, but with upgrades, India expects to keep its Jaguars in service for another decade or more. India recently ended production of the Jaguar. Meanwhile, Britain is replacing its Jaguars with Eurofighters, an expensive proposition considering the low cost and high effectiveness of the old, but very reliable Jaguar, and equally old, and reliable Harpoon missiles.