India will soon be sending a team to the United States for induction of the MH-60 Romeo multi-mission helicopters. Induction of these helicopters will be a quantum jump for the Indian Navy in detecting and destroying enemy submarines prowling in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
This year the Navy will procure at least three of the 24 heavy-duty helicopters, equipped with multi-mode radars and night-vision devices as well as armed with Hellfire missiles, MK-54 torpedoes, and precision-kill rockets, under Rs 15,157 crore ($2.3 billion) contract inked with the US in February 2020.
“All the 24 MH-60 R helicopters, which will operate from frontline warships including aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, will be induced by end-2023 or so. It will somewhat plug the critical operational gap on this front. The team of pilots and technicians for training and induction of the MH-60 Rs will be going to the US in May-June,” said a defence ministry source.
The MH-60 Rs are a replacement for the older Sea King 42/42A helicopters that were retired in the 1990s. The case for the 24 choppers, incidentally, began in 2005. The MH-60 Rs are manufactured by Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin and will be the third type of iconic US helicopter to be inducted by Indian by India. The IAF has already inducted 22 Apache attacks and 15 heavy-lift Chinook choppers. Also, the Indian Army is scheduled to get six Apaches under a Rs 5,691 crore deal, which was inked during former US President Donald Trump’s visit to India in February last year.