New York: The US has approved the sale of 13 naval guns and related equipment worth $1 billion to India to help it "meet current and future threats, according to the Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA).
The DSCA said on Wednesday that the State Department approved the sale of the anti-surface warfare and anti-air defence MK 45 5 inch/62 calibre (MOD 4) naval guns and the agency notified Congress about it on Tuesday clearing the way for the deal to go through.
The approval came just days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent US tour. It will enhance India's naval capabilities, particularly in the Arabian Sea.
The MK 45 is manufactured by BAE Systems Land and Armaments at its facilities in Louisville, Kentucky.
The deal is the latest development in the growing defence ties between India and US and the announcement came as the two countries were holding a joint military exercise, Tiger Triumph from a naval base in Vishakhapatnam.
"Military collaboration between India and the United States is a result of growing, high-level trust and consistent effort to broaden the ways in which we can work together," US Ambassador Kenneth Juster said at the start of the exercise last week.
The DSCA announcement included a clarification that "the proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region."
Any offset -- requirement to manufacture some components for the product or other things in India -- would be negotiated between BAE Systems and New Delhi, the DSCAsaid.
The announcement said, "The proposed sale will improve India's capability to meet current and future threats from enemy weapon systems. The MK 45 Gun System will provide the capability to conduct anti-surface warfare and anti-air defence missions while enhancing interoperability with US and other allied forces."
It added, "India will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defence."
The deal will include 3,500 D349 Projectile, 5 inch/54 MK 92 MOD 1 ammunition and spare parts, personnel training and equipment training, publications and technical data, transportation and logistics and technical support by the US government and BAE Systems, the DSCA said.
According to BAE Systems, MK 45 Mod 4 with a range of more than 20 nautical miles or 36 km is being used on US Navy DDG 51 Class destroyers and on the fleets of South Korea, Japan and Denmark.
A BAE Systems promotional video said that MK 45 can be used to protect and support ground forces, control inland areas and prepare the battlefield given its range.
About 1,200 Indian army, navy and air force personnel and more than 500 US marines and sailors are participating in the nine-day Exercise Tiger Triumph that began on November 13.
INS Jalashwa and USS Germantown are the ships in the exercise, a part of which involved them sailing from Visakhapatnam to Kakinada.
According to US security experts in New Delhi, the sale will improve India's capability to meet current and future threats from enemy weapon systems. The MK-45 Gun System will provide the capability to conduct anti-surface warfare and anti-air defence missions while enhancing interoperability with the US and other allied forces.
India will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defence. The proposed sale will not alter the basic military balance in the region.