December 27, 2010: India is following its neighbor Pakistan and buying some American Harpoon Block II anti-ship missiles. India wants them to arm the U.S. P-8I maritime patrol aircraft they have on order. India ordered 21 Harpoons and two training versions of the missile.
The Harpoon is a 691 kg (1,523 pound) missile with a 221 kg (488 pound) warhead and a range of 124 kilometers. The air launched version is 3.8 meters (12.6 feet) long and 340mm in diameter. The earliest version entered service in 1977 and over 7,000 have been built since then.
Four years ago, Pakistan ordered 130 more U.S. Harpoons (Block IIs, including fifty submarine launched versions, fifty surface ship launched and thirty air launched). Pakistan was already using the earlier versions of Harpoon, but the latest (Block II) version was more accurate, and had software and sensors that enabled it to hit ships near the shore or in port. That is, ships in "busy" environments, where the terminal guidance system must be able to pick out the ship from all manner of other clutter. The most likely targets are Indian ships, preferably in port, in some future war or crises situation. India also plans to use Harpoons against Pakistani ships, but Chinese vessels are now the more likely target.