According to sources this deal is being handled by the US Navy, which has asked Lockheed Martin to expedite the delivery process.
The process for acquiring 24 anti-submarine warfare helicopters for the Indian Navy from the US Company Lockheed Martin has started. An agreement for $905 million has been inked, and this does not include the weapons that will come with these helicopters. Confirming this to Financial Express Online, a senior officer said “This is the first step that is followed in government to government deals. The US administration has asked Lockheed Martin to execute the program.” “What has been announced today is just the cost of the helicopters minus the weapons and other systems,” the officer explained.
According to sources this deal is being handled by the US Navy, which has asked Lockheed Martin to expedite the delivery process. Three undelivered MH-60R helicopters from the US Navy’s inventory are being handed over to India which will be used for training the pilots and men who will and maintain them.
As was reported in 2019 the US State Department had put the value of the whole package at $ 2.6 billion which includes besides the helicopter, communication systems, weapons systems, eight anti-surface Hellfire Missiles which can be used to hit at ships, MK 54 Light weight Torpedoes, 50 cannons and precision rocket systems.
Role of these Helicopters
These helicopters are being acquired as they would replace the existing obsolete Sea King helicopters of the India Navy. These acquired from the UK in 1971 are supposed not only detect but to also engage with the Chinese and Pakistani warships and submarines which are lurking in the in the Indian Ocean region.
These are also designed to fire the Naval Strike Missile (NSM), which has been designed by Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, based in Norway. This system can engage warships at a range of 185 kilometers.
During the US President Donald Trump’s visit the long awaited contract for 24 Sikorsky MH60-R Multi-Role helicopters for the Indian Navy was sealed in February. These helicopters will be coming to India through the Foreign Military sales (FMS) route and it is a government to government deal.
These helicopters are being bought under the ‘Buy (Global)’ Category and the delivery is going to start in 2021, and will play a critical role in the Indian Ocean where there is an increasing security threat with Chinese and Pakistan ships being sighted recently by the Indian Navy.
These will be integral to the Indian Navy’s modern destroyers and frigates and will be inducted onboard Delhi and Kolkatta class destroyers and the under-construction Project 15B destroyers.
Says Commodore Anil Jai Singh (retd), Vice President Indian Maritime Foundation, These helicopters will help in bridging the widening capability gap in India’s undersea warfare preparedness. These are potent force multipliers and will play a critical role in Fleet Operation.”
According to Dan Spoor, Vice President, Sikorsky Maritime and Mission Systems, “When India gets these helicopters it will be the fourth country in the world. It will join Australia, Denmark and Saudi Arabia, to operate the MH-60R Romeo.”