The MH-60R helicopters will provide the Indian Navy the capability in the Indo-Pacific region, where China is present too.
A long-standing need of Indian Navy to have multi-role helicopters (MRH) for its expanding role in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) has been addressed by the government when the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) put its approval on the purchase of 24 MH-60R 24 MH-60R Seahawk maritime helicopters from the US-based Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin.
The MH-60R helicopters will provide the Indian Navy the capability in the Indo-Pacific region, where China is present too. These helicopters will come once the $ 2.6 billion deal is inked through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route and will be fully loaded.
What is FMS Route?
The US Administration has a policy of doing defence deals through the FMS route which is essentially government to government.
The Ministry of Defence has in the recent years started preferring procurement of military hardware through the FMS for meeting the operational requirements of the Indian Armed forces.
This route addresses time delays and the cost of the equipment is fixed by the suppliers. The contract if inked between two countries and the supplier.
Also under this the US Department of Defence charges an administrative fee for processing procurement for the government-to-government sale.
According to Capt DK Sharma (Retd), Defence Analyst and former spokesperson of the Indian Navy, “The Indian Navy was operating the Sea King 42Bs since the late 90s which were acquired from the UK. These multi-role helicopters were deployed on board the aircraft carrier Viraat and other capital warships viz. Delhi class destroyers, Godavari and Brahmaputra class frigates etc. With the passage of time, the effectiveness of their sensors deteriorated and there was a significant void in the Air Anti Submarine Warfare capability of the Indian Navy.”
“With the induction of these very potent MRH (MH 60 R) the Air Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capability of the Indian Navy would get a shot in the arm and would be very effective in keeping the submarine threat posed by the extra-regional Navies, including China and Pakistan, in the Indian Ocean Region under check,” adds Sharma.
According to him, “The MH 60R Helicopter is a very advanced and a very potent Air ASW (AASW) platform which would plug-in the gaps which the Indian Navy was facing for over a decade now. These helicopters once inducted would 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.”
The critical gaps in the capabilities of the Indian Fleet would stand addressed with the acquisition of these flying machines.