Thursday, July 16, 2020

How The Indian Navy Mounts The Harpoon On It's Neptune, Shows This Naval Calendar

Almost did a double take on seeing the photograph above. Took a little while to realise that it shows an AGM-84L Harpoon Anti-Ship Missile [AshM]. Personnel are mounting it on the SUU-92/A Underwing Pylon of the Indian Navy's Boeing P-8I 'Neptune' Maritime Surveillance Aircraft.
AGM-84 Harpoon Anti-Ship Cruise Missile - AshM - 001 - TN
The Missile is without it's Control Surfaces - the Wings & Fins, only the Sustainer, Warhead & Guidance System sections, with a protective Radome Cover. Attaching it's BSU-43/B & 44/B Wings, that provides Lift, involves using a quick-attach, Clevis fitting arrangement. Torque-limiting, screw-type device mount the BSU-44/B Fin, imparting manoeuvrability.
BRU-76A - Weapon Rack - Boeing P-8I - 001 - TN
The Pneumatically-actuated BRU-76/A Bomb Rack is the mating interface to the Missile with the Aircraft.
BRU-76A - Weapon Rack - Boeing P-8I - 002 - TN
The Harpoon is highly capable of evading Radar detection, thanks to it's over-the-horizon range, traversing a low-altitude trajectory. Incorporated Counter-Counter-Measure [CCM] technologies negate adversarial attempts to jam it's mid-course, Active Guidance System.
Boeing P-8I Neptune Weapon Loading - Indian Navy - 002-01 - TN
This quirk of a snap appears in the Indian Navy's official 2020 Calendar, that they recently put up on it's website, a full 7 months after the year officially commenced. Whatever the reason, no one is complaining the release.

The appearance of the Missile on the calendar is interesting for a couple of reasons. One, it provides clarity on the mechanisms involved. Second, it calls into question veracity of some recent articles which suggest that Missile has, so far, not been part of the Navy's P-8I Arsenal.
"However, the AGM-84L Harpoon anti-ship missiles did not form part of P-8I aircraft complement to Indian Navy."
Not before April 2020, they contend, did the US approve it's sale, along with the Mk. 54 Torpedo to India, to arm India's Neptune.
"the Harpoon missile system will be integrated into the P-8I aircraft to conduct anti-surface warfare missions in defense of critical sea lanes"
As evident in the picture, these have been in the Navy's arsenal since earlier. This latest approval is a sanction for sale of a follow-on tranche of these Missiles.
Indian Navy Boeing P 8I Aircraft IN 320 - 001 - TN
Plenty of photographs, online, showing Indian Navy P-8I, flying in the US, with underslung Harpoons, where it underwent pre-delivery trials. This picture is, perhaps, the first official share of the Harpoon Missile with the P-8I Aircraft, on Indian soil.

In the background, one can see the Pipistrel Virus SW 80 'Garud' ultralight aircraft, that the Indian Navy uses as an ab initio pilot training platform.
Boeing - P-8 - Weapon Hardpoint - Indian Navy - 001
Boeing - P-8 - Weapon Hardpoint - Indian Navy - 001
Be Maritime Surveillance it's primary function, the Aircraft has demonstrated operational versatility & can pack significant punch. It came to light recently, in light of the current Chinese incursion into India, how, during the 2017 Doklam Stand-off, Military Planners pressed the P-8I into service, for monitoring Chinese activity,
"The P-8I aircraft were the most potent platform to carry out surveillance - be it sea or mountains. The aircraft were live-streaming data to support decision making during the Doklam face-off"
The firepower it can carry, too, isn't anything to scoff about. While the Harpoons & Torpedoes would "take care of" Naval adversaries, it has demonstrated ability to drop ordnance against land-based targets, too. Sonobuoys dropping for Anti-Submarine Warfare [ASW] missions forms part of it's capabilities. The USN recently embarked on a plan to further enhance it's firepower, integrating wider weapon types. Gives an indication of the expansion potential of the IN's own P-8I.
AGM-84 Harpoon Anti-Ship Cruise Missile - AshM - 002 - TN
Starting with an initial order of 8 Aircraft in 2009, the Indian Navy is set to fly 18, at least. The latest decision to acquire 6 more Neptune platforms, it took in 2019.
A sweet view of the Navy's Floating Dock, the FDN-2, that L&T indigenously developed, the first such Indian initiative, is also part of the Calendar. Shows the Mk. IV Landing Craft Utility [LCU] vessel [L53] berthing in to it.
Indian Navy Floating Dock - FDN-2 - Larsen & Toubro L&T - 001 - TN
US Navy BMR Website -