India-US ties touching the Skies: Indian Navy accepts first two of 24 MH-60R helicopters from US

In yet another sign of strengthening defence collaboration and partnership between India and the US, the Indian Navy has accepted the first two Sikorsky MH-60R Multi-Role Helicopters (MHR) from the United States Navy in a ceremony held at Naval Air Station in North Island, San Diego.

Indian Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu accepted the formal transfer of these helicopters from the US Navy to the Indian Navy. Manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corporation, USA, the Indian Navy is procuring 24 of these helicopters under Foreign Military Sales from the US government.

The delivery of the first two MH-60 Multi-Role Helicopters is a crucial milestone in India-US bilateral ties and this event marks a new era of defence collaboration between the two countries. Further, US Navy will extend support to the Indian Naval Forces through requisite capability upgrades and sustenance as the aircraft is inducted.

MH-60R: World’s most advanced Maritime Helicopter

MH-60R also referred to as ‘Romeo’, is considered to be the world’s most advanced Maritime Helicopter. It is an all-weather helicopter that is designed to support multiple missions. These helicopters can be effectively employed for offensive and defensive roles including, anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), search-and-rescue (SAR), Naval gunfire support (NGFS), surveillance, logistics support & personnel transfer, vertical replenishment and airborne mine countermeasures.

Considered the most capable helicopter available today, it is designed to operate from destroyers, cruisers and aircraft carriers. Lockheed Martin is the mission’s system integrator.

Role of MH-60R helicopters for Enhancing Capability

Serving as the replacement of the existing obsolete Sea King 42/42A helicopters of the Indian Navy, the MH-60R are envisaged to operate from frontline ships and aircraft carriers, facilitating flexibility of operations, enhanced surveillance and attacking capabilities. Hence, the induction of these helicopters would further enhance the Indian Navy’s three-dimensional capabilities. India, in turn, will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and strengthen its homeland defence as these helicopters are coming at a time when the Indian Ocean is witnessing increasing security threats due to the proliferation of submarines. The helicopter’s capability of prolonged maritime operations makes it a Force Multiplier.

Acquisition of MH-60R: A contribution to Make in India

Contributing towards the Make in India initiative, manufacturer Lockheed Martin would also discharge offsets through the transfer of technology to Indian partners for the manufacturing of products and services. The helicopters will be modified with several India Unique Equipment and weapons.

In order to exploit these potent and powerful helicopters, the first batch of Indian crew is presently undergoing training in the USA.

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