As per reports Indian Navy will soon have MH-60 multi-role Romeo Sikorsky helicopters, which will give a boost to its in expanding its role in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
This acquisition of two dozen MH-60R maritime utility helicopters by India from U.S-based firm Lockheed Martin comes under a $2.6 billion deal inked in February 2020.
The first three out 24 MH-60R Seahawks are expected to be delivered between June – September, 2021.
As reported by the Financial Express, sources who are familiar with the process confirmed “Some of these helicopters will be used for training before they fly to India. The original timeline for the delivery is expected to be followed.”
The whole process had to be put on hold due to the global shut down. The deal was approved by then Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in August 2018. The United States Department of State gave its nod in April 2019.
“The Indian Ocean is pretty big, so it’s critical from a maritime security standpoint for the Indian Navy to have these aircraft to be able to patrol that ocean against any threats that they have,” Tom Kane told reporters during a May 15 conference call.
Kane is the Sikorsky’s director of naval helicopter programs. “It’s a really good fit for India. They are as excited to get the aircraft as we are to provide them,” he added.
India currently operates a mixed fleet of Russian-made Kamov Ka-28, Sikorsky S-61 Sea King and domestically produced HAL Dhruv for maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare.
India requested the U.S for speedly delivery of the so that it can replace some os its old maritime rotocraft.
Another 21 helicopters will be delivered through 2024 under the $904.8 million contract that falls under a Letter of Agreement (LOA) signed by the Indian and U.S. governments in February.
More about the MH-60Rs `Romeos’ Helicopters
The MH-60R is claimed to be “the world’s most advanced maritime helicopter” by Lockheed Martin, and for good reason – there’s already more than 300 of them operating worldwide.
Indian Navy will receive fourth-generation of the MH-60Rs `Romeo’ helicopter.
The fleet will boost the Indian Navy’s anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare operations. The MH-60 is capable of conducting highly efficient reconnaissance missions. They will come loaded with torpedoes, sensors and missiles.
The multi-role helicopters will be deployed on warships and will be very effective in keeping the submarine threat posed by the extra-regional Navies, including China and Pakistan, in the Indian Ocean Region.
These helicopters will be used in Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW), Anti Surface warfare (ASuW), Command and Control, ESM roles besides Search and Rescue (SAR), Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP) roles, etc.
It is reported that soon a team of Indian Navy pilots and ground staff will leave for the U.S to receive training for the new helicopters.
As sources reported to the Financial Express Online that, “A letter has been received from the US based company inviting the pilots and ground staff for training. The number of pilots and the ground crew has yet to be decided. The training was to take place last year. However, due to the global pandemic of Coronavirus and the subsequent shutdown delayed this process.”
“Now, as the world is opening up gradually, the training process will start,” the sources added.