A team of 18 Indian Navy personnel has reached the United States for training to operate MH-60R helicopters and their induction into service, a report in The Hindu 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. As per reports, all 24 MH-60Rs are likely to be delivered by the end of 2025.
“Three helicopters are scheduled to be delivered to the Navy next month which will be used for training in the US. The first batch is likely to arrive in India by June 2022,” a defence official said.
“MH-60R international partnerships continue — Indian Navy students arrived at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola and North Island to commence training with two MH-60R helicopters while strengthening global partnerships,” the US Naval Air Systems Command said on Twitter.
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.
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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