US sends LoA to India for 24 MH-60R Seahawk maritime helicopters for the navy
Clearly, as the challenge from the Chinese Navy grows, the US needs to work with core allies and partners to shape more effective defences in the years ahead. India is clearly a partner in this effort. According to an article published in April 2019 by our partner India Strategic, the US State Department has approved sale of MH-60R ASW helicopters to India
New Delhi. The US State Department has approved the sale of 24 Lockheed Martin MH-60R anti-submarine helicopters to India, paving the way for final negotiations to set the price and what on-board equipment and weapons will be required by the Indian Navy.
The Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) of the State Department announced approval on April 2, under the Foreign Military Sale (FMS) programme “for an estimated $2.6 billion” for the multi-mission helicopters. Procedurally, DSCA has to notify the US Congress, which it did, saying the proposed sale will strengthen the US-Indian strategic relationship and “improve the security of 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.”
This is the first time that the Indian Navy will get one of the most advanced Anti-submarine helicopters, equipped with Raytheon’s MK-54 torpedoes, Lockheed Martin’s Hellfire missiles, Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) and its Rockets, Night Fighting systems, sophisticated radars and secure communication devices. Just about the same that the US Navy uses.
The Indian Navy had decided about five years ago to go in for this helicopter, then Made and Sold by Sikorsky, and as usual there were procedural hiccups in India. Later, Lockheed Martin acquired Sikorsky, and the deal was closed.
Air Vice Marshal AJS Walia (Retd) and later Dr Vivek Lall, Lockheed Martin’s Vice President for Strategy and Business Development, coordinated the negotiations with Indian authorities. The Ministry of Defence will now set up a Price Negotiations Committee (PNC) to finalise the deal, and the supply of helicopters will commence around three years after the first payment is made.
Indian Navy sources said the helicopters are needed at the earliest possible, and the US company may be asked to expedite the delivery on As Soon As Possible basis.
As for the Weapons and Systems on board, DSCA said:
The Government of India has requested to buy twenty-four (24) MH-60R Multi-Mission helicopters, equipped with the following:
The total estimated cost is $2.6 billion.