The US-made submarine-hunting helicopter, – MH 60-R are set to be delivered to India, early next year. The helicopters are expected to form the front-end of tracking the growing presence of Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean.
US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a joint press conference this year to announce the copter deal. According to the deal, which was announced in February, 24 helicopters will be delivered next year.
“The sale is under the foreign military sales route. The US is working to accelerate the delivery timing. We will be able to do it and intend to start deliveries early next year,” said William L Blair, Vice-President and Chief Executive, Lockheed Martin India.
Amid soaring tensions between India and China, Blair stated that he shares the same sense of urgency to deliver the copters. “This will be record speed for the delivery,” he said.
An anti-submarine warfare-capable helicopter like MH 60-R, with its sea-dunking sonars, is a preferred platform for detecting a submarine. The Indian specifications comprise spare engines, specific missiles and Mk-54 torpedoes among others.
Blair added that his company was looking to shift the wing assembly of its F-16 fighter jets to Hyderabad. “We have started tooling (at the plant) and later this year we should be on track,” he said.
On the progress of the move, Kurt Knust, head of the F-21 fighter jet programme for Lockheed Martin, said, “We have done desktop analysis on 400 companies and on-ground analysis with 200 companies.” The F-21, a single-engine jet, is in the race for the 114 jet tender of the IAF.