Indian Navy

Indian Navy gets first two Romeo multi-mission helicopters as part of deal signed with the U.S. in 2020

Published : July 17, 2021 21:07 IST

The MH-60R Multi Role Helicopter. The Indian Navy accepted the first two of its 24 helicopters from the U.S. Navy in a ceremony held at NAS North Island, San Diego, on July 16. Photo: PTI

The first two of the 24 MH-60R Multi Role Helicopters (MRH) ordered by India under a $2.6 billion Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement with the United States government in 2020 were formally handed over to the Indian Navy on July 16 at a function at the U.S. Naval Air Station, North Island, San Diego Bay.

The first two of the 24 MH-60R Multi Role Helicopters (MRH) ordered by India under a $2.6 billion Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement with the United States government in 2020 were formally handed over to the Indian Navy on July 16 at a function at the U.S. Naval Air Station, North Island, San Diego Bay.

The induction of the Lockheed Martin manufactured, fourth generation MH-60Rs, which are all-weather, anti-submarine helicopters designed to support multiple missions with state-of-the-art avionics and sensors, will go a long way in enhancing the ‘three dimensional capabilities’ — on the surface, in the air and underwater — of the Indian Navy. These helicopters can be loaded with torpedoes and missiles. In addition to tracking and engaging submarines, the MH-60Rs are also capable of performing search and rescue, logistics support, personnel transport, medical evacuation and surveillance.

The MH-60R deal includes training of Indian naval pilots and ground crew, spare parts and air-to-ground weapons support. Also known as submarine hunters, the MH-60s will be modified with sensors, equipment, and specialised weapon systems unique to India, a package that includes Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and Mark 54 anti-submarine torpedoes.

While the first two rotary wing war machines are from the U.S. Navy’s stock, the remaining MH-60s, which are also known as the Romeos, will arrive in India in batches starting from the middle of next year. The Romeos will replace the Navy’s fleet of ageing British-built Sea King helicopters, which are now increasingly used for transport rather than in the role they were meant to be used — anti-submarine warfare.

In keeping with handing over protocols, an exchange of helicopter documents took place between Vice Admiral Kenneth Whitesell, Commander Naval Air Forces, U.S. Navy, and Vice Admiral Ravneet Singh, Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff of the Indian Navy.

The MH-60Rs will add muscle to the Navy’s anti-submarine operations. The Navy currently relies on its Boeing manufactured P-8I fixed wing aircraft for anti-submarine and reconnaissance operations. Said Hamid Salim, vice president, Sikorsky Maritime & Mission Systems, which was bought over by Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky Maritime & Mission Systems: “The delivery of the two MH-60R Romeo helicopters to the Indian Navy marks the beginning of a new era of collaboration and partnership between the U.S. Navy, Indian Navy and Sikorsky.”

Added William L. Blair, vice president and chief executive, Lockheed Martin India: “We appreciate the tremendous confidence placed in Team Seahawk by the Indian Navy through their selection of the Romeo. The MH-60R is the most advanced maritime multi-mission helicopter in operation — deployed globally, and its mission performance by far second to none. We stand committed to making this programme a tremendous success in partnership with the United States Navy and the Indian Navy.”

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