The State Department of United States has said that Donald Trump’s Administration has approved the sale of 24 multi-role MH – 60 Romeo Seahawk maritime helicopters to India at a cost of U.S.$ 2.6 billion.
The announcement comes in response to a request submitted by India to U.S in 2018.
Manufactured by Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky, these helicopters can hunt submarines, knock out ships and conduct search-and-rescue operations. They can operate from frigates, destroyers, cruisers and aircraft carriers.
India was in need of these formidable anti-submarine hunter helicopters for more than a decade now. This will give the much needed boost to the Indian Navy’s anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare operations, especially when China is expanding its presence in the Indian Ocean.
MH – 60 Romeo Seahawk Helicopters would be replacing the fleet of British-made Sea King helicopters.
In its notification to Congress, the State Department of U.S. said that the proposed sale is in line with the Foreign Policy and National Security of the U.S. as it will help in further strengthening the U.S. – India strategic relationship.
The notification stated, “The proposed sale will provide India the capability to perform anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare missions along with the ability to perform secondary missions including vertical replenishment, search and rescue, and communications relay.”
It further said, “India is a major defensive partner which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region.”
Presently used by U.S. Navy as the primary anti-submarine warfare anti-surface weapon system for open ocean and littoral zones, the helicopters are considered the world’s most advanced maritime helicopter.
According to U.S. Naval Air System Command, the MH-60 Romeo Seahawk missions are anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, surveillance, communications relay, combat search and rescue, naval gunfire support and logistics support.
Besides, India has also requested for 10 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, 38 Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System (APKWS) rockets, 30 MK 54 torpedoes, and other weapons, training missiles and equipment.