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Procurement

Defence news: Cabinet Committee on Security clears procurement of 24 US multi-role helicopters for Indian Navy

NEW DELHI: Days before the visit of US President Donald Trump to India, the Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday cleared the procurement of 24 MH-60R Seahawk multi-role helicopters worth $2.6 billion for the Indian Navy.

“The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) cleared the procurement of 24 MH-60R multi-role helicopters for the navy,” an official said.

The 24 Lockheed Martin helicopters will be procured through the foreign military sales (FMS) route from the US government. The Defence Acquisition Council had cleared the procurement of the 24 multi-role helicopters in August 2018. Later, in April last year, the US State Department approved the sale of the helicopters to India. The US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which administers the FMS program, had stated that the State Department made a determination approving a possible FMS to India of 24 MH-60R Multi-Mission helicopters for an estimated cost of $2.6 billion.

The DSCA had delivered the required certification notifying the US Congress of the possible sale. Lockheed Martin will be the principal contractor for the sale.

The DSCA had said that the proposed sale will provide India the capability to perform anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare missions along with the ability to perform secondary missions including vertical replenishment, search and rescue, and communications relay. India will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defence.

The helicopters, which will build India’s capabilities for anti-surface, anti-submarine warfare and search and rescue missions, will replace the old British-made Sea King helicopters, which were phased out in 2000. This will plug the ‘existing capability gap’. The helicopters for India will be armed with Hellfire missiles, precision kill weapon system and MK 54 torpedoes.

The helicopters will be an integral part of Indian warships and aircraft carriers. Such choppers in anti-submarine warfare roles fly ahead of warships, place their sonar into the deep waters, search for enemy submarines and release torpedoes and depth charges against them to clear the path for the fleet. Its sonar suite provides navigation, situational awareness, target data and weapon guidance. The procurement gains importance in light of China expanding its naval reach in the Indian Ocean Region.

Importantly, the US Navy has deployed these helicopters as its primary anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface weapon system for open ocean and littoral zones.

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