24 of them were contracted during Donald Trump visit to meet critical shortage
A team of 18 Navy personnel reached the U.S. for training on the MH-60R multi-role helicopters, 24 of which were contracted in a $2.2-billion deal signed during the visit of then President Donald Trump in February 2020.
“Three helicopters are scheduled to be delivered to the Navy next month which will be used for training in the U.S. The first batch is likely to arrive in India by June 2022,” a defence official said. Training of the first batch of aircrew and technical crew, will commence at Pensacola, Florida and San Diego, the official said.
The helicopters built by Lockheed Martin are being procured under the ‘Buy (Global)’ category of the procurement procedure through the Foreign Military Sales route of the U.S. The deliveries are expected to be completed by 2025.
“MH-60R international partnerships continue — Indian Navy students arrived at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola and North Island to commence training with two MH-60R helicopters while strengthening global partnerships,” the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command said on twitter.
The Navy is facing an acute shortage of helicopters on its frontline warships but procurement of new helicopters has been repeatedly delayed. A tender for 111 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH) is being processed through the strategic partnership route of procurement procedure while there is a projected requirement of 123 multi-role helicopters. To address the shortfall in the interim, the Navy issued a Request for Information (RFI) for lease of 24 light helicopters in April.
The MH-60R helicopters can be effectively employed for offensive and defensive roles including anti-submarine warfare, anti-ship strike, low intensity maritime operations, search and rescue, over the horizon network centric operations and electronic warfare.
The MH-60Rs are a replacement for the Sea King 42/42A helicopters already decommissioned in the 1990s and are envisaged to operate from frontline ships and aircraft carriers providing them the critical attributes of flexibility of operation, enhanced surveillance and attacking capability.
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