New Delhi: The first batch of three MH-60 Romeo multi-role helicopters are expected to be delivered next month. Sources have confirmed that “Dates are in the process of being confirmed for delivering the helicopters to the Indian Mission in the US. After which they will be sent to India.”
The pilots and ground crew from the Indian Navy are already in the US undergoing training. They will return with the new MH-60Rs.
For the balance of the helicopters, the delivery will be as per the timeline stated in the contract inked between the governments of India and US. The 24 helicopters are coming through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route and are for approximately US$ 2.6 billion. These helicopters are going to help the Indian Navy play a critical role in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
According to the contract, the package includes spare parts, air-to-ground weapons support and training of pilots and ground crew. The training is already going. Due to the global shut down in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the process of training had been delayed. And once the world started opening gradually, the team left for the US to be trained.
In 2020, the deal got the stamp of approval by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) last year in February before the former US President Donald Trump’s arrival in New Delhi.
According to officers, the Indian Navy is going to receive the fourth -generation MH-60Rs `Romeos’ helicopters.
These helicopters are going to be loaded with torpedoes and missiles and these missiles are going to be used in anti-submarine roles.
The delivery of these helicopters will be completed in five years from the time the deal was inked. These helicopters will replace the British Sea King helicopters. The Defence Acquisition Council had put its stamp of approval in 2018.
The US based Lockheed Martin Company will be modifying the helicopters as per Indian specifications. And these modifications will be carried out in Owego, New York; and Stratford, Connecticut, based facilities of Lockheed Martin. What India is going to receive are three helicopters which were meant for the US Navy and is a naval version of Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk and a member of the Sikorsky S-70 family.
The modification will include the folding main rotor and a hinged tail, which will help in reducing the footprint on board the ships. These helicopters have the capability of handling the anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW) operations. They can also be used in search and rescue (SAR), as well as combat search and rescue (CSAR), naval special warfare (NSW) insertion, vertical replenishment (VERTREP), and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC).