Naval Warfare

Indian Navy Commissions First MH-60R Seahawk Multirole Helicopter Squadron

56
×

Indian Navy Commissions First MH-60R Seahawk Multirole Helicopter Squadron

Share this article
Indian Navy Commissions First MH-60R Seahawk Multirole Helicopter Squadron
Indian Navy Commissions First MH-60R Seahawk Multirole Helicopter Squadron

The Indian Navy has taken a significant stride in bolstering its maritime capabilities with the commissioning of its first Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk multirole helicopter squadron. The newly established unit, designated as Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS) 334, was formally inaugurated on 6th March at Indian Naval Station Garuda in Kochi, situated in the southwestern region of India. The commissioning marks a pivotal moment for India’s naval defense strategy, as the MH-60R Seahawk helicopters are poised to play a crucial role across various operational domains, including anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), search-and-rescue (SAR) missions, medical evacuation operations, and vertical replenishment tasks. INAS 334 is anticipated to serve not only as an operational unit but also as a training platform for upcoming MH-60R squadrons slated for induction in the future.

The ceremony itself was marked by ceremonial traditions, including a notable fly-past by a formation of the Seahawks and a traditional water cannon salute, symbolizing the historic significance of the occasion, as highlighted by the Indian Navy in an official statement. Video footage from the commissioning ceremony showcased four MH-60Rs bearing serial numbers IN751, IN752, IN753, and IN755. However, it is worth noting that the squadron likely boasts a complement of at least six MH-60Rs, with IN754 being delivered to Indian Naval Station Garuda in July 2022, followed by IN756 later the same year. Training activities with a fleet of three Seahawks had commenced as early as November 2022 at Indian Naval Station Garuda, with additional training conducted for Indian Navy pilots in the United States at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, utilizing three helicopters procured earlier.

Indian Navy MH-60R Seahawk Multirole
Indian Navy MH-60R Seahawk Multirole

India’s journey towards acquiring the MH-60R Seahawk helicopters has seen its share of challenges and milestones. Initially selected over the NHIndustries NH90 in 2011, the procurement process faced setbacks, including termination in 2017 due to pricing concerns. However, in August 2018, India’s Defence Ministry greenlit the acquisition of 24 MH-60R helicopters, culminating in a contract signed in February 2020 valued at $2.13 billion. This procurement was geared towards enhancing India’s capabilities in detecting and neutralizing potential submarine threats within the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). The formal handover of the first two MH-60Rs to the Indian Navy by the U.S. Navy in July 2021 marked a significant milestone in the timeline of this acquisition. These helicopters, commissioned on March 6, 2024, in the presence of Defense Minister Rajnath Singh at INS Garuda in Kochi, will constitute the backbone of INAS 334 Naval Squadron, under the command of Captain M Abhishek Ram.

The Sikorsky SH-60/MH-60 Seahawk (or Sea Hawk) 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 blades and a hinged tail to reduce its footprint aboard ships. The MH-60R is designed to combine the features of the SH-60B and SH-60F. Its avionics includes dual controls and instead of the complex array of dials and gauges in Bravo and Foxtrot aircraft, 4 fully integrated 8″ x 10″ night vision goggle-compatible and sunlight-readable color multi-function displays, all part of glass cockpit produced by Owego Helo Systems division of Lockheed Martin. Onboard sensors include: AAR-47 Missile Approach Warning System by ATK, Raytheon AAS-44 electro-optical system that integrates FLIR and laser rangefinder, ALE-39 decoy dispenser and ALQ-144 infrared jammer by BAE Systems, ALQ-210 electronic support measures system by Lockheed Martin, APS-147 multi-mode radar/IFF interrogator. 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 Maritime Strike (HSM) squadrons.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *