Countering China! India-US ink $3 billion defence deals for MH-60R, Apache helicopters during Trump visit

Huma Siddiqui
india US ties, India US defence deals, Apache helicopters, trump india visit, Sikorsky, Lockheed Martin, Indian Army, Cabinet Committee on Security

India and the US are all set to sign major defence deals in New Delhi on Tuesday. The $ 2.6 billion deal for the 24 MH-60R Multi-Role Helicopters from Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin and six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters for the Indian Army worth for around $930 million. The deals totalling $ 3 billion were approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) earlier this month. The defence trade between the two countries which is currently at $ 18 billion will now grow more with these two deals being inked. The bilateral defence trade which started growing from 2008 is set to touch $ 25 billion soon.

Dr Vivek Lall, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at Lockheed Martin (LM) Aeronautics, has played a very important role in closing the $ 2.6 billion deal for the MH-60R multi-role helicopters for the Indian Navy. In fact, he is also responsible for concluding the earlier Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian Attack Helicopters and CH-47F (I) Chinook helicopters deal for $ 5 billion for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The 24 MH-60R fourth-generation helicopters will come through the Foreign Military Sales route (FMS) for the Indian Navy and will be equipped with torpedoes and missiles which according to Naval officers be used for anti-submarine warfare and is likely to have 30 per cent offsets contract. To be inducted over five years, these helicopters will make certain stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific Region.

India-US Defence Relations

Since the Trump administration has designated India as a Major Defense Partner (MDP), the two countries have been working towards expanding not only the scope of the MDP status but have also decided to further deepen the defence ties and work towards joint security cooperation.

India has also been included among the top tier of countries which have been entitled to license-free exports, re-exports, and transfers under License Exception Strategic Trade Authorization (STA-1). The two countries are also exploring further means to expand two-way trade in defence items and defence manufacturing supply chain linkages.

India and the US have signed the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) and under this agreement access to advanced defence systems are facilitated and India gets to fully use the existing American platforms in the armed forces. These include C-130 J, C-17, P-8I aircraft, and Apache and Chinook helicopters, M-777 Ultra Light Howitzers, Snipers which have already been inducted in the Indian armed forces.

Last December, both sides signed the Industrial Security Annexe (ISA) under which the two defence industry collaboration and cooperation will grow further.

AH-64E Apache attack helicopters from the Boeing Company

An order for six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters from the Boeing Company for the Indian Army has been finalised today. The $ 930 million deal too is going to be through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and is in addition to the existing order of 22 helicopters for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Boeing Company in an earlier interaction with the Financial Express Online said that some critical parts of the attack helicopter will be made in India.

Michael M Koch, Vice President, India, Defense, Space & Security had said that "Besides the fuselage and additional structures of the helicopter will be made locally in India."

He mentioned that under a joint venture between Boeing and Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. (TASL) — Tata Boeing Aerospace Limited (TBAL) which was set up in 2016, fuselages for the AH-64 Apache are already being manufactured here in India.

Also, around 90 per cent parts for the helicopters are being currently sourced from the Indian suppliers.

Rossell Techsys plays a critical role in supplying high-quality electrical panel for the AH-64 Apache as well as wire harness for the helicopter.

The Indian Air Force has already started inducting the Apache Helicopters and the deliveries are expected to be completed by year-end. These will replace the Russian MI25/35 gunships, which are getting phased out.

Approval for an additional sale of the attack helicopters for the Indian Army was given by the US State Department last June. And the Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) had notified the US Congress about the value of the deal — $ 930 million.