Just four days ahead of the visit of the US President Donald Trump to India, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval for the procurement of 24 MH-60R 24 MH-60R Seahawk maritime helicopters from the US-based Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin for the Indian Navy. Financial Express Online was the first to report that this will perhaps be the only deal which will be approved by the CCS ahead of the visit and get announced at the end of bilateral talks on February 25 in New Delhi.
The deal which is going to be through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) for approximately$2.6 billion will help the Indian Navy to play a critical role in the Indian Ocean where China is increasing its presence.
These fourth-generation MH-60Rs `Romeos' helicopters for the Indian Navy will come loaded with not only torpedoes but missiles too which can be used for anti-submarine and there is expected to be a 30 per cent offset clause as well. The US-based company package is expected to include training, support, spares and air-to-ground weapons too.
As has been mentioned earlier the talks for these helicopters had been spearheaded by Dr Vivek Lall, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at Lockheed Martin, who has been credited to have played a very important role in the defence trade between the two countries.
These helicopters from the time the contract will be signed will be delivered in a time frame of five years and will be replacing the British Sea King helicopters. The approval for these helicopters was given by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in 2018.
It had also been discussed by the two leaders as well during the second 2+2 India-US Ministerial Dialogue in December 2019.