The Indian Navy has received the first two of its 24 multi-role MH-60-R (Romeo) helicopters from the US Navy, the Defense Ministry said on Saturday.
A statement issued by the ministry said the navy received MH-60-R helicopters in a ceremony held at the US Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego on Friday.
“MH-60R helicopters manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corporation, USA is an all-weather helicopter designed to support multiple missions with state of the art avionics/sensors,” the statement said, adding that “induction of these MRH would further enhance the Indian Navy’s three-dimensional capabilities.”
The Indian Navy is buying 24 of these helicopters from the US government through foreign military sales. “The helicopters would also be modified with several India Unique Equipment and weapons,” it said.
The first batch of Indian personnel is currently receiving training in the US “to exploit these potent helicopters,” the ministry said.
These helicopters are a replacement for the Sea King 42/ 42A helicopters, which were decommissioned in the 1990s, and are “envisioned to operate from frontline ships and aircraft carriers, providing them the critical attributes of the flexibility of operation, enhanced surveillance, and attacking capability,” the Indian Navy had said in an earlier press release.
“The delivery of the helicopters … comes at a time when the Indian Ocean Region is witnessing increasing security threats due to the proliferation of submarines,” the navy said.
“The helicopters can be effectively employed for offensive and defensive roles including Anti-Submarine Warfare, Anti-Ship Strike, Low-Intensity Maritime Operations, Search and Rescue, over the horizon Network Centric Operations and Electronic Warfare.”
The statement said the acquisition of MH-60R has provided the “Indian Navy with a key capability and effectively contributes to the make in India initiative.”
Last year in February, the then US President Donald Trump had confirmed that India and the United States were set to sign a $3 billion contract on delivering US-made helicopters and other military equipment to the South Asian country.
“And I am pleased to announce that tomorrow our representatives will sign deals to sell over three billion dollars in the absolute finest state-of-the-art military helicopters and other equipment to the Indian Armed Forces,” Trump had said during his speech at a cricket stadium in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad.
The US president also praised the New Delhi-Washington military cooperation and joint drills between the two countries.
Earlier in the month, India’s Cabinet Committee on Security approved the purchase of $2.6 billion worth 24 Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk naval anti-submarine helicopters for the Indian Navy from the US.
Inputs from Anadolu Agency and Sputnik