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Indian Navy’s dream for anti-submarine MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters to be reality soon! US clears $2.6 bn deal

Huma Siddiqui
Indian Navy

The US State Department has put its seal of approval for the sale of $2.6 billion twenty-four MH-60R Multi-Mission helicopters for the Indian Navy through the Foreign Military Sale (FMS). The certification for notifying the Congress by Defense Security Cooperation Agency of the US that was given on Tuesday (April 2), does not mean the sale has been concluded. The next step after notification to the Congress is that Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems, Owego, New York is expected to close the deal with the Indian side soon.

Financial Express Online was the first to report in March that a Letter of Agreement (LOA) will be sent to the Indian government after the approval by the US State Department for sale of these helicopters which will replace the existing fleet of Sea King Mk 42B/C and Ka-28 helicopters. After a decade long wait for anti-submarine hunter helicopters, once in service the MH-60R is also expected to help the Indian Navy in countering China in the Indian Ocean region.

Once the deal is finalised, this will add another feather to the cap of Dr Vivek Lall, who has been instrumental behind several successful defence deals with the US since former President Barack Obama’s tenure in White House. Lall is currently Vice President of Strategy and Business Development. Financial Express Online had also mentioned that as part of the contract the US-based company will offer 30 per cent in offsets under the Indian Defence Procurement Policy, which allows the Indian industry to showcase their capabilities.

After the deal is firmed up, the delivery of these flying birds will start from next year and will be under the contract completed in 48 months. These machines will be operating from frigates, destroyers, cruisers and aircraft carriers. In 2018, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had sent a Letter of Request to the US Government for 24 Lockheed anti-submarine helicopters, which is being seen as one of the most significant milestones in not only India-US bilateral relations but also in the bilateral military sales between the two countries.

Over a decade now, the India-US Military sales have been on an upward trajectory, and under President Donald Trump, India has more access to the US high-tech military hardware. With the conclusion of the deal soon, the bilateral military trade between India and the US is going to reach up to $20 billion.

What will the 24 helicopters MH-60R Multi-Mission helicopters be equipped with?

  • The helicopters will have thirty APS-153(V)
  • Twenty four Multi-Mode radars installed and six spares
  • Sixty T700-GE-401C engines out which 48 will be installed and twelve spares
  • Twenty four Airborne Low-Frequency System (ALFS) with twenty installed and the rest spares
  • Thirty AN/AAS-44C(V) Multi-Spectral Targeting System with twenty-four installed and six spares
  • Fifty-four Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation Systems (EGI) with Selective Availability/Anti-Spoofing Module (SAASM) forty-eight installed and the balance spares.
  • One thousand (1,000) AN/SSQ-36/53/62 sonobuoys
  • Ten AGM-114 Hellfire missiles
  • Five AGM-114 M36-E9 Captive Air Training Missiles (CATM)
  • Four AGM-114Q Hellfire Training missiles
  • Thirty-eight Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System (APKWS) rockets
  • Thirty MK 54 torpedoes
  • Twelve M-240D Crew Served guns
  • Twelve GAU-21 Crew Served guns
  • Naval Strike Missile Emulators
  • Four Naval Strike Missile Captive Inert Training missiles;
  • One MH-60B/R Excess Defense Article (EDA) USN legacy aircraft
  • Seventy (70) AN/AVS-9 Night Vision Devices
  • Fifty-four AN/ARC-210 RT-1990A(C) radios with COMSEC
  • Thirty AN/ARC-220 High-Frequency radios
  • Thirty AN/APX-123 Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) transponders