Sikorsky MH-60R Romeo Utility Maritime Helicopter
Sikorsky MH-60R Romeo Utility Maritime Helicopter

Indian Ministry of Defence Signs Two LOAs with US for Helicopters

One contract and two Letters of Offer and Acceptance (LOAs) have been concluded with the US side for procurement of helicopters and self-protection suite. The delivery of the helicopters will commence from May, 2021. While not detailed in the above statement, India had previously approved the purchase of 24 Sikorsky MH-60R ‘Romeo’ naval multi-mission helicopters for Rs 15,157 crore ($2.12 billion) and six additional AH-64E Apache attack choppers for Rs 5,691 crore ($796 million) from the US. This information was given by Raksha Rajya Mantri Shri Shripad Naik in a written reply to Shri Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma and Shri Vijay Kumar Hansdak in Lok Sabha on March 18.

The US approved the sale of 24 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters in April 2019, but the signing of the contract has been delayed over the final price. The chopper will replace the ageing Sea King helicopters, which the navy acquired in 1978. The Romeo helicopter is equipped with APS-153(V) multimode radars which would help the Indian navy in anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. The cabinet has also given its green signal to the purchase of six Apache attack helicopters for the Indian Army. In September 2019, Indian Air Force had inducted eight AH 64E Block III Apaches at Pathankot air force to guard the border with Pakistan. The second Apache unit is planned for the Eastern Sector at Jorhat, Assam.

The Sikorsky MH-60 Seahawk is a twin turboshaft engine, multi-mission United States Navy helicopter based on the United States Army UH-60 Black Hawk and a member of the Sikorsky S-70 family. The most significant modifications are the folding main rotor and a hinged tail to reduce its footprint aboard ships. The MH-60R was originally known as “LAMPS Mark III Block II Upgrade” when development began in 1993 with Lockheed Martin (formerly IBM/Loral). Two SH-60Bs were converted by Sikorsky, the first of which made its maiden flight on 22 December 1999. The MH-60R was formally deployed by the US Navy in 2006. Offensive capabilities are improved by the addition of new Mk-54 air-launched torpedoes and Hellfire missiles. All Helicopter Anti-Submarine Light (HSL) squadrons that receive the Romeo are redesignated Helicopter, Strike Maritime (HSM) squadrons.

A Sikorsky MH-60R Romeo helicopter attached to the Raptors of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71 fires an AGM-114 Hellfire missile during a training exercise over the Pacific Ocean.