Navy aircrew completes training on MH-60R helicopters in U.S.

The first batch of three helicopters are expected to arrive in India by June, says a defence official

Published - April 08, 2022 09:15 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A scale model of the MH-60R Seahawk Multi Mission Helicopter. File

A scale model of the MH-60R Seahawk Multi Mission Helicopter. File | Photo Credit: S. Subramanium

The first batch of Indian Navy aircrew successfully completed its training on the MH-60R Multi-Role Helicopters (MRH) at the U.S. Naval Air Station, North Island in San Diego last week.

“The 10-month course included conversion training and other advanced qualifications on MH-60R helicopter. The crew flew extensively from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron – 41 (HSM 41) and achieved day and night deck landing qualification onboard a U.S. Navy Destroyer,” the Navy said in a statement. The crew would be responsible for inducting the versatile ‘Romeo’ into the Indian Navy, it stated.

The first batch of three helicopters are expected to arrive in India by June, a defence official said. This will be the first major induction of helicopters by the Navy in decades for deployment on ships.

The MH-60R helicopters will provide the Navy enhanced offensive role including anti-submarine warfare, anti-ship strike, specialised maritime operations as well as search and rescue operations, the Navy added.

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.

$2.2 bn deal

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 Navy is facing an acute shortage of helicopters on its frontline warships but procurement of new ones has been repeatedly delayed.

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.

The third positive indigenisation list of 101 equipment and platforms released by the Defence Ministry on Thursday includes the long pending deal for Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH) which was earlier being processed through the Strategic Partnership route of procurement procedure. The Navy is now in talks with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to acquire a variant of its Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH).

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.

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