The Government of India has issued a Letter of Request (LOR) to the U.S. Government for the procurement of 24 Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ naval multirole helicopters.
The helicopters will be procured through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route. The government-to-government (G2G) deal for the procurement, approved by India’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in September, is expected to be worth around $1.8 billion (Rs 12,500 crore) and is likely to be signed later this year.
The Navy is expected to take delivery of the helicopters in 2020-2024 timeframe. The newly acquired helicopters will replace the Indian Navy’s ageing fleet of Sikorsky UH-3H Sea King and Westland Sea King Mk.42B (British licence-built version of Sikorsky Sea King) helicopters.
MH-60R will be capable of performing Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) missions and will become an integral part of the Navy’s front-line warships like the aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates and corvettes. Availability of the new helicopters with the Navy would plug the existing capability gap as the majority of its 140 warships are operating without helicopters.
The Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk multi-mission helicopter was developed by Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky to replace the U.S. Navy’s Sikorsky SH-60B and SH-60F helicopter fleet and is designed to combine the features of both the helicopters.
The MH-60R Seahawk is also called ‘Romeo’ based on the military phonetic alphabet pronunciation of its variant letter.
The helicopter is capable of conducting a range of naval missions including anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), search-and-rescue (SAR), naval gunfire support (NGFS), surveillance, communications relay, logistics support and personnel transfer and vertical replenishment (VERTREP).
The helicopter can be launched and recovered by any air-capable frigate, destroyer, cruiser, fast combat support ship, amphibious assault ship, or aircraft carrier operated by the U.S. Navy.