India’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, met in Delhi on Aug. 25 and accorded approval for the procurement of 24 multi-role helicopters for the Indian Navy.
The newly acquired Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capable helicopters will become an integral part of the Navy’s front-line warships like the aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates and corvettes. They will replace the Navy’s ageing Sikorsky UH-3H Sea King and Westland Sea King Mk.42B (British licence-built version of Sea King) helicopters. Availability of MRH with the Navy would plug the existing capability gap as the majority of its 140 warships are operating without helicopters.
Details regarding the procurement is not disclosed, but Livefist defence blog reported that the Indian MoD cleared purchase of 24 Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky MH-60 Romeo (MH-60R Seahawk) maritime helicopters in a government-to-government (G2G) deal, worth $1.8 billion (Rs 12,500 crore), with the Pentagon.
The acquisition body in total granted approval for proposals amounting to approximately Rs. 46,000 crores (USD 6.6 billion). DAC was constituted for overall guidance of the defence procurement planning process of the Indian Armed Forces.
This included approval for the procurement of 111 naval utility helicopters for the Indian Navy at a cost of over Rs. 21,000 crores (~USD 3B) and 150 indigenously designed and developed 155 mm Advanced Towed Artillery Gun Systems (ATAGS) for the Indian Army at an approximate cost of Rs 3,364.78 crores (~USD470M).
In case of naval utility helicopters, 16 of them will be procured in fly away condition from the selected foreign original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and the remaining 95 will be manufactured in India. The government will now identify a foreign helicopter manufacturer and an Indian defence company to form a joint venture in India for the project.
In addition, procurement of 14 vertically launched short range missile systems was also cleared by the DAC. Of these, 10 systems will be indigenously developed. These systems will boost the self-defence capability of ships against Anti-Ship Missiles (AShM).