In a major step towards consolidating the Indo-US defense cooperation, the US Navy handed over the first two MH-60R multi-role helicopters to the Indian Navy. The Indian Navy is under the process of procuring these 24 helicopters manufactured by Lockheed Martin, which are estimated to be worth $2.4 billion, under foreign military sales from the US government.

The helicopter was formally handed over to the Indian Navy by the US Navy at a ceremony held on Friday at the Naval Air Station North Island or NAS North Island in San Diego. India's Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu attended the handover ceremony. Sandhu said the induction of all-weather multi-role helicopters into the fleet is an important step in India-US bilateral defense ties. He tweeted, "India-US Friendship Touching the Skies."

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

He said bilateral defense trade has grown to over $20 billion in the last few years. Apart from defense trade, India and the US are also working together on co-development of defense fora. Sandhu referred to the reforms taken by India in the defense sector in recent times, which have opened up new opportunities for foreign investors.


A spokesperson of the Indian Navy said, "The ceremony also witnessed the exchange of helicopter documents between Vice Admiral Kenneth Whitesell, Commander Naval Air Forces, US Navy and Vice Admiral Ravneet Singh, deputy chief of naval staff (DCNS), Indian Navy."

MH-60R helicopter to enhance Navy's three-dimensional capabilities

The MH-60R is an all-weather helicopter designed to support multiple missions with the latest technology in aviation. The induction of these MRHs will enhance the three-dimensional capabilities of the Indian Navy with dominance from land, air, and sea. Helicopters will also be equipped with many specialized equipment and weapons. The first batch of Indian crew is currently undergoing training in the US.

MH-60 Romeo
MH-60 RomeoCredit: Reuters

As per a statement by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), this proposed sale will enhance India's anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare capabilities. India will use these capabilities to deal with regional threats and strengthen its country's defense. The Indian government had approved the purchase of helicopters in February 2020, ahead of former US President Donald Trump.