India Set to Buy 24 MH-60 ‘Romeo’ Helicopters From US, Deal Estimated at Rs 13,500 Crore

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Aircraft 902 from NUSQN 725 fires the first 'Hellfire' missile from the MH-60R Seahawk 'Romeo', in Florida, United States of America.

India on Thursday issued a ‘letter of request’ to the United States for procuring 24 naval multi-role MH-60 ‘Romeo’ helicopters. The entire deal will be of Rs Rs 13, 500 crore. These helicopters will be armed with torpedoes and missiles for robust anti-submarine warfare capabilities, reported The Times of India.

The government to government deal to acquire MH-60 choppers is likely to be inked within a year. These helicopters are manufactured Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin, under the US foreign military sales programme.

Apart from these choppers, India has also purchased C-17 Globemaster-III strategic airlifters, C-130J “Super Hercules” planes and M-777 ultralight howitzers since 2007. After nine years of negotiations, the attempt to purchase these choppers was stalled in 2016 after discussions failed over a price difference with US manufacturer Sikorsky. The request for information (RFI) was also issued in August last year by the Navy to procure 123 naval multi-role helicopters (NMRH). However, nothing much progress has been made in this direction. The delay in acquiring 123 multi-role helicopters led to consider the US offer for a direct government sale of the Romeo.

The Indian navy is likely to replace the Sea King fleet with MH-60 helicopters. The Navy presently operates 11 Kamov-28 and 17 Sea King ASW helicopters, but only four Kamove-28 and around five Sea King ASW are in flying condition. The MH-60 Seahawk helicopter is the world’s most advanced maritime helicopter. It is operational and deployed today with the U.S. Navy as the primary anti-submarine warfare anti-surface weapon system for Open Ocean and littoral zones.

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