The US Government has formally sent the expected Letter of Agreement (LoA) for 24 MH-60R Seahawk maritime helicopters, to the Indian Government earlier this week. In view of China s expansion of its presence in the India Ocean, the helicopter deal estimated at around $2.6 billion, will help in boosting the Indian Navy’s anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare operations.
The 24 MH-60R fourth generation helicopters will come to the Indian Navy will come armed with torpedoes and missiles which will be used for anti-submarine warfare. US President Donald Trump and his administration consider India as a major partner and sales of these helicopters will ensure stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific Region.
Confirming this highly placed source told Financial Express Online that The letter was received earlier this week and the two governments are expected to negotiate and sign the final contract by the fourth quarter of this year. Adding, it is expected to have a 30 per cent offset contract as well.
This LoA will help in expediting the process of acquiring these helicopters from the US-based Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin, which is coming through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route.
Globally renowned aerospace scientist, Dr Vivek Lall, who joined Lockheed Martin last year, has spearheaded game-changing US- India bilateral defence trade, joined Lockheed Martin last year. Once the sale goes through it will further deepen the India-US defence sales and will support the foreign and national security policy of the US which will help to strengthen the US-Indian strategic relationship.
Financial Express Online was the first to report that the deal will be finalised in later this year and the helicopters will be inducted over five years. These helicopters are expected to replace the ageing British-made Sea King helicopters.
Last year, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had given approval for the US-based Lockheed Martin s Sikorsky MH-60Rs `Romeos fitted with sensors through the FMS route from the US.
Sources have also confirmed that the proposed package along with the helicopters includes related anti-submarine warfare equipment and weapons, anti-surface warfare weapons, and air-to-ground weapons, as well as spares, training, and support.
Post this procurement, the Indian Navy requires123 naval multirole helicopters in due time. These are required to be manufactured in India under the Strategic Partner model of the Defence Procurement Policy (DPP), by a domestic private company with technology transfer from an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). The total value of this procurement would be estimated at about $ 10 billion.