The first batch of three MH-60R Multi-Role Helicopters contracted by the Navy from the United States are scheduled to arrive in India by mid-July, according to defence officials.
And a case for procurement of six Kamov Ka-31 early warning helicopters is under progress.
The three helicopters were handed over to the Indian Navy last July in the U.S. and are being used for training Indian pilots at Pensacola, Florida and San Diego.
This will the first major induction of helicopters by the Navy in decades for deployment on ships.
The helicopters were scheduled to arrive in India between mid-June and mid-July and likely to be based in Kochi, a defence official said.
Separately, a case for procurement of six Kamov Ka-31 airborne and early warning helicopters from Russia is now being reviewed by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC). A Contract Negotiation Committee was constituted in November 2020 and the commercial bids opened in September 2021. There were some deviations from the Request For Proposal (RFP) and they are currently being addressed. These helicopters are expected to be deployed on indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant.
Deal signed during Trump visit
India had signed a $2.2 bn deal for MH-60R helicopters built by Lockheed Martin during the visit of then U.S. President Donald Trump in February 2020. Deliveries are expected to be completed by 2025. The helicopters would also be modified with several India unique equipment and weapons, the Navy had stated.
The Navy is facing an acute shortage of helicopters on its frontline warships but procurement of new ones has been repeatedly delayed. A tender for 111 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH), being processed through the Strategic Partnership route of procurement procedure, is under the scanner as a part of the review by the DAC of all ‘Buy Global’ deals. It is likely to be scrapped and instead take the indigenous route, which is currently being reviewed, officials said.
Another major requirement for 123 multi-role helicopters is also pending. To address the shortfall in the interim, last April the Navy issued a Request for Information (RFI) for lease of 24 light helicopters.
The MH-60Rs are a replacement of 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.