Deadly MH-60 Romeo helicopters to give Indian Navy more firepower, says expert

A long-standing need of Indian Navy to have multi-role helicopters (MRH) for its expanding role in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) has been addressed by the government when the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) put its approval on the purchase of 24 MH-60R 24 MH-60R Seahawk maritime helicopters from the US-based Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin.

The MH-60R helicopters will provide the Indian Navy the capability in the Indo-Pacific region, where China is present too. These helicopters will come once the $ 2.6 billion deal is inked through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route and will be fully loaded.

What is FMS Route?

The US Administration has a policy of doing defence deals through the FMS route which is essentially government to government. The Ministry of Defence has in the recent years started preferring procurement of military hardware through the FMS for meeting the operational requirements of the Indian Armed forces.

This route addresses time delays and the cost of the equipment is fixed by the suppliers. The contract if inked between two countries and the supplier. Also under this the US Department of Defence charges an administrative fee for processing procurement for the government-to-government sale.

Expert View

According to Capt DK Sharma (Retd), Defence Analyst and former spokesperson of the Indian Navy, “The Indian Navy was operating the Sea King 42Bs since the late 90s which were acquired from the UK. These multi-role helicopters were deployed on board the aircraft carrier Viraat and other capital warships viz. Delhi class destroyers, Godavari and Brahmaputra class frigates etc.

With the passage of time, the effectiveness of their sensors deteriorated and there was a significant void in the Air Anti Submarine Warfare capability of the Indian Navy.”

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