Besides 3-4 months for the US administration to respond to India’s ‘letter of request’ for the acquisition of $ 2bn MH-60 ‘Romeo’ anti-submarine helicopters deal for the Indian Navy, it will be minimum 18 months for the helicopters to come to India.
Explaining the procedure to FE Online, a senior official said that, “Once the letter is sent out especially as the deal is going to be through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route, the request is studied and the responses are sent based on the requirements outlined.
As has already been reported by FE earlier, defence trade with the US is always through the FMS route as that takes less time. For the 24 helicopters that the Indian Navy is acquiring the time expected to be taken for the delivery is a minimum of 18-20 months.
The Indian Navy needs 24 of these fourth-generation helicopters armed with torpedoes and missiles are used for anti-submarine warfare. These helicopters will be coming from aerospace giant Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin.
Read | Indian Navy to get more ‘wings’: Government fast tracks the procurement of MH-60 anti-submarine helicopter
As was first reported by FE, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had issued Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) with a validity of 18 months for the acquisition of 24 anti-submarine and anti-ship multi-role helicopters (MRH) for the Indian Navy. Soon thereafter, the MoD sent a `letter of request’ to the US in an effort to expedite the procurement process.
According to a senior Naval officer, “Since the Trump administration considers India as a major partner to ensure stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific Region, these helicopters will play a vital role.”
At a Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) meeting headed by the defence minister Nirmala Sithraman recently, approval was given for the US-based Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky MH-60Rs `Romeos’ fitted with sensors through the FMS route from the US.
The MH-60R provides a vital capability for the Indian Navy in the Indo-Pacific region. The significant investments made in the MH-60R by the US Navy and industry provides the unique assurance that it has undertaken the most rigorous testing.
For the 24 anti-submarine helicopters, the machines will be customised keeping in mind the Indian Navy requirement. Almost a decade ago the government had sent out an RFI for Multi-Role Helicopter (MRH) to replace the Sea King for the Indian Navy. However, these helicopters have yet to come for the navy as they are the most critical aspect of the frontline warships like the aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates and corvettes.
All the deals with the US have been through the FMS route including the aircraft for the Indian Air Force C-17 Globemaster-III strategic airlifters, C-130J “Super Hercules” planes and the recently inducted M-777 ultra-light howitzers, Apache and Chinook helicopters, P8I maritime patrol aircraft—all this to a tune of $ 15 bn over a decade.