Military equipment giant Lockheed Martin has shared the first images of the MH 60 ‘Romeo’ helicopter in colours of India. 24 ‘Romeos’ have been purchased by India Navy for anti-submarine warfare role.
The US headquartered company’s India office, tweeted an image of the helicopter painted with round logo depicting Indian colours. It was done to mark ‘Navy day’ observed by the Indian Navy on December 4.
In February this year, India had decided to go ahead with the deal to get 24 of the MH 60R helicopters for $ 2.6 billion ( Rs 18200 crore) from US company Lockheed Martin under the foreign military sales route okayed by the US Administration.
The MH60R will give India an edge in ASW role. The acquisition will provide “teeth” to the Navy in its role of dominating the Indian Ocean. The area between the Persian Gulf ( around the Middle east) and the Straits of Malacca ( a key trade route or ships bound towards China & Japan) is what India sees itself as leader.
India’s submarine hunting abilities would be clearly ahead of China after induction of new copters. Read here full details in IDD explainer
India, at present uses the Sea King 42, made by AugustaWestland and the Kamov-28 from the erstwhile Soviet Union in ASW roles. The Sea Kings were acquired 40 years ago while the Kamov’s are 30 years old. Collectively both the fleets don’t add up to more than 14 copters and are barely operational.
24 Romeos are just the bare minimum
The acquisition of 24 copters from US is a welcome step, however, the numbers are just the bare minimum for a fleet the size of the Indian Navy which is now a fully operational blue-water force with almost 18 to 20 ships out on international deployments at any point of time.
What is capability of MH-60 R
Over 300 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters operating worldwide with over 600,000 flight hours accumulated.
The Indian requirements comprise a Long list (read full list here) including spare engines, specific missile, Mk-54 torpedoes and also the ‘inert training rounds of the Naval Strike Missile without actually procuring the missile itself. The Naval Strike Missile (NSM) is designed to hit targets such as ships more than 180 kilometres away.