US based Lockheed Martin/ Sikorsky on Thursday morning posted a teaser announcing the expected arrival of three MH-60r multi-mission helicopters for the Indian Navy. The social media handle of Lockheed Martin said in a tweet that “Romeos are approaching India.” According to the tweet Romeos IV, V and VI are approaching India.
More about the MH-60R Romeo multi-mission helicopter
Earlier this year Financial Express Online had reported that three MH-60 R helicopters will be landing in India during summer and will be joining the first ever multi-role helicopter squadron. The Indian Navy has ordered 24 multi-mission helicopters from the US based Lockheed Martin, which is considered to be the most advanced maritime helicopter in the world.
For the Indian Navy these helicopters are going to add more power to the Indian Navy’s anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities in the Indian Ocean Region and Indo-Pacific Region. The helicopters the Indian Navy is getting will be modified and on board there will be state of the art sensors and avionics and India Unique Weapons and Equipment.
“These multi-mission helicopters have C4I capabilities and are designed for anti-submarine (ASW) and Anti-Surface Warfare ((ASuW), and they are capable of engaging targets which are over the horizon,” a C4I expert had told Financial Express Online earlier this year.
Indian Navy and Interoperability
The Indian Navy is already flying the P-8I maritime patrol aircraft and now will receive three MH-60R helicopters and later this year is expected to get Sea Guardian Drones from the US. Right now the Indian Navy has leased two Sea Guardian from the US based General Atomics and they are already deployed.
This means now the focus will be interoperability between the assets from the US vendors which is critical for the Navy and the Indo-Pacific Region. All the three systems from the US come with encrypted systems, which will strengthen the capabilities and help to take interoperability between the three assets to the next level. This will also be useful when the navies of QUAD member countries as well as the MALABAR Drill takes place.
To carry out surveillance in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), P-8I maritime patrol aircraft from Boeing Company is operated by the Indian Navy and has so far logged in more than 35,000 flight hours since its induction in 2013. The aircraft with its maritime surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities and operational readiness is an important asset for the navy.
Once the Sea Guardians join the Indian Navy, they will fly in sync with the P-8i, the MH-60R helicopters.
Earlier Milind Kulshreshtha, C4I expert, had told Financial Express Online, that the P-8Is are an advanced airborne platform with in-built inter-operability capabilities, making them a multi mission aircraft with C4I based Concept of Operations.
These aircraft can detect unknown submarines and ships which are lurking around in the waters and have the capability to launch submarine detection sono-buoys — both active and passive, as part of ASW operations. This will help in locating submarines which are below the water surface. For any fleet which is moving on the high seas, ASW assets are very important to have on board. As these assets will help to alert about threats of an attack by a stealth submarine of an enemy. These assets provide an ASW screen and will help to neutralize any hostile submarine or underwater threats and both P-8I and MH-60 R have the capability to fire torpedoes.
Once the COMCASA is implemented it will enable interoperability between the US and India all the assets including the MH-60R, P-8Is and Indian Navy warships would be able to operate as part of the digital network of the QUAD (Japan, Australia, India and the US) Navies, with NATO specified protocols compatible to US Link-22/Link-16 data link.
Aircrew of MH-60 completed its training
Financial Express Online had reported recently that the first batch of MH 60R ‘Romeo’ aircrew completed its 10 month long training at Naval Air Station, North Island, San Diego, US. The crew was trained on MH-60 H and their course included conversion training and other advanced qualifications.
The Indian Navy in April had said that the aircrew flew from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron – 41 (HSM 41) and during the training process onboard a US Navy Destroyer the crew achieved day and night deck landing qualification.
This is the crew which will be responsible for the induction of `Romeo’ into the Indian Navy.
More about MH-60R
These helicopters are coming through Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route in a deal which is worth USD 2.6 billion and are being manufactured by the US based Lockheed Martin. And will play a very important role in the IOR where the Chinese Navy continues to increase its presence and also in the Indo-Pacific Region.
During the visit of the former US President Donald Trump the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had put its stamp of approval for these helicopters following the Defence Acquisition Council’s (DAC) approval in 2018.
These helicopters which are going to replace the ageing British Sea King which are currently being flown are the naval version of Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk. These helicopters are fourth generation and are members of the Sikorsky S-70 family. These can be loaded with missiles and torpedoes for ASW action. And the 24 machines will be delivered in five years from the time the contract has been signed.
According to an official statement of the Indian Navy MH 60R helicopters – IV & V have been delivered and were received by the Indian Navy at Cochin International Airport. The third helicopter (VI) will reach India next month.
The two helicopters arrived on board C-17 transport aircraft.
So far the Indian Navy has received 3+2= 5 out of the 24 that have been ordered. The first three MH-60R were delivered to the Indian Navy last year in the US and have been utilized for training the crew. The delivery of all the 24 machines will be completed by 2025. In February 2020 a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LoA) for procurement of 24 MH 60R multi-role helicopters was concluded with the US Government .
The delivery of all 24 MH 60R helicopters will be completed by 2025. The induction of state of the art mission capable platforms will significantly boost the integral ASW capability of the Indian Navy.