India will get delivery of the first three of 24 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters next month, a person familiar with the matter said on Tuesday. This development will add to the Indian Navy’s anti-submarine warfare capabilities in the Indian Ocean region.
This comes against the backdrop of China actively building up its naval forces and deploying submarines in the Indian Ocean region, raising its profile away from home. In recent years, Chinese submarine presence in the Indian Ocean region, a major west to east trade route, has been a cause of concern for India.
Officials of the Indian embassy in Washington and personnel from the Indian Navy will be handed the choppers manufactured by the US-based Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin. The date of the handover was being worked out, the person cited above said.
Indian Navy personnel arrived in the US earlier this month for taking delivery of the choppers that will be used for training purposes in the beginning, the person said.
Another three of the 24 helicopters, ordered under the Foreign Military Sales route in a $2.6 billion deal concluded last year, are expected to be delivered by the end of this year. Three more will be handed to India in the first half of next year – making it a total of nine. Three of the nine will arrive in India in June-July 2022, the person added.
The fourth-generation MH-60R ‘Romeo’ helicopters will replace India’s British Sea King helicopters acquired in the 1970s. The submarine-hunting choppers will come equipped with torpedoes and missiles.