In Pictures: First Batch Of Indian Navy's MH-60 Helicopter Aircrew Successfully Completes Training In US
The crew underwent 10 months of intensive training, including day and night deck landing qualification.
The Indian Navy's first batch of aircrew for its newly acquired MH-60 helicopters has completed training in the United States.
The crew, comprising pilots and sensor operators, was undergoing training at US's Naval Air Station, North Island, San Diego.
"The crew underwent 10 months of intensive training, including day and night deck landing qualification," the Indian Navy has said, adding, "They would be responsible for inducting the versatile ‘Romeo’ into the Indian Navy... commencing mid-2022."
The Narendra Modi government had signed a $2.13 billion deal with the US for 24 MH-60R helicopters in February 2020, during then US president Donald Trump’s visit.
The helicopters will replace obsolete Sea King anti-submarine helos.
The first Sea King helos landed on INS Vikrant, the first aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy, in July 1971, just months ahead of the Bangladesh liberation war. Navy contracted for an improved version — Mk42B Sea King — in 1982, and 20 of these were delivered to it between 1988 and 1992.
According to reports, less than 10 Sea Kings remain in service today, leading to an acute shortage of anti-submarine warfare helicopters in the navy.
Due to this shortage, some of the Indian naval warships go to sea without dedicated anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helos at a time when the presence of the People’s Liberation Army Navy in the Indian Ocean is growing.
The MH-60s will come with Telephonics APS-153(V) radar, which, among other things, has high-resolution Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) imaging option. Using ISAR, Telephonics says, the helo can classify detected moving ship targets under night and restricted visibility and operate from outside the enemy’s visual and lethal range.
The radar also comes with Automatic Radar Periscope Detection and Discrimination capability.
Submarines, when under water, raise periscopes above the water surface for safety sweeps, surveillance, and visual observation of targets, making themselves vulnerable to radar detection. Using this capability, the radar can spot and discriminate submarine periscopes. The detection of periscopes is difficult, especially in roughs seas, as the periscopes are small and are raised above the water surface for a very short time.
The helos will have AN/AQS-22 Airborne Low Frequency Sonar system as its primary undersea ASW sensor. According to Raytheon, this is the only in-service dipping sonar with multi-frequency operation, which helps it adapt its performance to varying environmental conditions.
Due to its rapid search rate and longer detection range, this system reduces the number of helicopters required to perform active ASW screening.
These helicopters will be equipped with the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) laser-guided rocket, which BAE Systems has been pitching to the Indian forces for years.
APKWS, which the US Navy deploys on its MH-60 helos, helps in hitting targets with improved accuracy and minimal collateral damage. According to its maker, APKWS “redefines precision” and gives a “low-cost surgical strike capability”.
Apart from APKWS, the helos will also be equipped with AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, the Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile with proven sea-skimming capabilities for the anti-ship role and Raytheon MK54 torpedoes.
MH-60R will be the third type of US-built helicopter to be inducted into the Indian armed forces. The Indian Air Force has already inducted 22 Apache attack helicopters and 15 Chinook heavy-lift helos. The Indian Army has also signed a deal for six Apache attack helicopters and this number is likely to go up in the future.
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