Three recent major arms sales approvals by the US State Department for India have raised the possibility of that country being able to better integrate with the forces of other countries in the Indo-Pacific region.
Previously a large buyer of Soviet/Russian and French equipment, in recent years India has acquired Boeing C-17 and Lockheed Martin C-130J airlifters, the Boeing P-8I Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft, and continues to examine the possibility of buying Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets or Lockheed Martin F-16V/F-21s as it seeks to replace its large fleet of obsolete Soviet-era MiG-21s and MiG-23s.
In February the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) confirmed that the State Department had approved the foreign military sale (FMS) of an Integrated Air Defense Weapon System (IADWS) to India. Based on the KONGSBERG/Raytheon NASAMS system similar to that being acquired by the Australian Army under LAND 19 Phase 7B, the approval includes the AN/MPQ-64Fl Sentinel radar system, AIM-120C-7/C-8 AMRAAM missiles, FIM-92L Stinger missiles, canister and vehicle-mounted launch systems, training systems, and various command and control elements.
Raytheon’s Sentinel radar is the same as that used by US and other countries’ NASAMS systems, whereas Australia will integrate advanced radars designed and manufactured locally by CEA Technologies. Australia will use the same AMRAAM medium range missiles and is considering adding the longer-range AMRAAM-ER, but will also integrate the AIM-9X Block II missile instead of the shorter-range Stinger.
NASAMS is designed to be linked in with larger integrated air defence systems such as that planned for the ADF through Project AIR 6500. The adoption of NASAMS by India raises the possibility of closer defence ties through the conduct of joint air defence operations in major exercises such as Pitch Black, or in real-world operations.
More recently, DSCA advised in April that India had been approved to acquire the Boeing AGM-84L Harpoon anti-ship missile and the MK 54 light weight torpedo (LWT) for employment from its P-8Is. Both weapons are also used by Australia and the US on their P-8A Poseidons, while South Korea and New Zealand are also expected to employ the same or similar weapons set on their P-8As when deliveries commence next year.