India will close the procurement deal with the United States for its multi-role helicopters in November. The contract for 24 Lockheed Martin MH-60R Seahawks will be signed with the Pentagon, US Department of Defence for approximately $2.6 billion.
The addition of the chopper into the India arsenal is expected to boost the Indian Navy’s anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare operations as China expands its presence in the Indian Ocean. The Lockheed Martin-built helicopters will provide a replacement for the aging fleet of British-made Sea King helicopters currently used by the Indian Navy. It is designated for hunting submarines and knocking out ships along with conducting search and rescue operations at sea.
As per the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) signed between India and the US in September 2018, a wide range of communication equipment and technology is also being transferred.
The Trump Administration on Tuesday notified Congress of the proposed sale asking to approve the move, citing that it assists the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the strategic Indo-US ties. The notification to Congress further added that India was a major defensive partner and the deal would ensure greater political stability, peace and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asian region.
India hopes to use the enhanced naval capabilities to combat regional threats and create a deterrent to protect its domestic interests.