India's Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has approved the USD2.6 billion import of 24 Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky MH-60R multirole naval helicopters - along with related equipment, spares and services - for the Indian Navy (IN).
Official sources told Jane's that the CCS, which is headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cleared on 19 February the long-pending procurement of the twin-engined rotorcraft under the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme, ahead of US President Donald Trump's two-day India visit scheduled to begin on 24 February.
Senior IN officers said the deal, which is likely to be announced during the visit, is aimed at overcoming the enduring shortage of multirole naval helicopters on IN frontline warships.
They said the MH-60Rs, which are being acquired under the 'Buy global' category of the Ministry of Defence's (MoD's) Defence Procurement Procedure-2016, will be fitted with twin weapon stations, each of which would mount two anti-ship missiles and an equal number of lightweight torpedoes in an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) role. The platforms will also be armed with depth charges.
The proposed platforms will replace the IN's legacy fleet of Westland Sea King Mk 42B/C and Kamov Ka-28 helicopters that were inducted into service in the 1980s and have been employed in a range of missions, including ASW, anti-surface warfare, naval gunfire support, and search-and-rescue operations.
The MH-60Rs can also be used for surveillance, communications relay, and logistics support as well as personnel transport and vertical replenishment.
In April 2019 the US State Department approved New Delhi's request to acquire the 24 MH-60R helicopters, as well one MH-60B/R Excess Defense Article (EDA) helicopter from the US Navy that will likely be used for training.
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