Pilots and technicians of the Indian Navy will be in the United States in May and June this year for training to operate MH-60R helicopters and their induction into service, a report in the Times of India says.
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.
At least three helos will be handed over to India this year, the report says. All 24 MH-60Rs are likely to be delivered by the end of 2023, it adds.
Lockheed Martin shared the first look of the Indian MH-60Rs in December 2020.
The MH-60Rs will replace the ageing Sea King helicopters of the Indian Navy, which were inducted into service in the 1980s.
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 Indian Navy’s new submarine-hunting helicopters will come equipped with Telephonics APS-153(V) radar, which can classify detected moving ship targets. The radar can detect submarine periscopes above the water surface.
The MH-60Rs will also have the AN/AQS-22 Airborne Low Frequency Sonar system as its primary undersea ASW sensor, which its maker Raytheon says is capable of adapting its performance to varying environmental conditions.
The helicopters will also be equipped with Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) laser-guided rocket, AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missile, Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile 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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