India and the United States formally signed a deal for the procurement of 24 Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk for the Indian Navy on Tuesday. The Cabinet Committee on Security had cleared the acquisition of 24 MH-60 'Romeo' Seahawk helicopters multi-role helicopters on 21st February. Moreover, a deal to procure six Boeing AH-64E Apache helicopters were also a part of the deal signed between the two countries. The Apache attack choppers will be procured by the Army as a plan modernizing the force. India will be paying $ 3 billion for these two choppers for its Navy and Army.

Seahawk to enhance India's capability in the Indian Ocean

In an official statement published on the deal, the Indian Navy showered praises on the multi-role helicopter capabilities, calling it a 'force multiplier'. It added that the chopper will add much needed critical punch to its abilities at a time when the Indian Ocean Region is witnessing increasing security threats due to a proliferation of submarines. "The helicopter's capability of prolonged maritime operations and seamless integration with the P8i and ships at sea makes it a 'Force Multiplier'," the statement added. The delivery of Seahawks will start by early 2021.

US Sikorsky MH-60R SEAHAWK
US Navy Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk helicopters. The MH-60 Seahawk is the frontrunner to bag the Indian Navy contract for NMRH helicopters.Lockheed Martin

The Indian Navy has been scouting for a formidable anti-submarine hunter for more than a decade now as the ageing British-made Seaking choppers are throwing a major challenge to conduct the operations effectively. The statement also added, "These (Seahawk) helicopters are a replacement for the Sea King helicopters already decommissioned in the 1990s and envisaged to operate from frontline ships and aircraft carriers, providing them with the critical attributes of the flexibility of operation, enhanced surveillance and attacking capability."

The procurement will be a part of the country's ambitious 'Make in India' project where Lockheed Martin the manufacturer "would also be discharging offsets through a transfer of technology to Indian Offset Partners for the manufacture of products and services."

MH-60 'Romeo' Seahawk helicopters
MH-60 'Romeo' Seahawk helicoptersLockheed Martin Official Website

Dan Spoor, vice president of Sikorsky Maritime and Mission Systems said, "We stand behind the US Navy and look forward to having the Indian Navy become the fourth international country, joining Australia, Denmark, and Saudi Arabia, to operate the MH-60R Romeo, the most advanced maritime helicopter in the world."