NATIONAL

Copter deal okayed ahead of Trump trip

Timely buy:MH-60R will help to partially ease the Navy’s shortage of helicopters.AFPAFP

Timely buy:MH-60R will help to partially ease the Navy’s shortage of helicopters.AFPAFP  

$2.4 billion agreement to buy 24 MH-60Rs is one among the various defence deals

Days before U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to India, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, met on Wednesday and cleared the procurement of 24 MH-60R multi-role helicopters for the Navy worth around $2.4 billion.

While other defence deals are expected to be announced, they are in various stages of procurement.

“The MH-60R helicopter deal has been approved by the CCS,” a defence source said, adding it was ready to be signed after crossing hurdles. The deal is expected to be announced during Mr. Trump’s visit and will help to partially ease the Navy’s shortage of helicopters on its front-line warships.

MH-60R was earlier selected through a competitive process for 16 helicopters, with an option for eight more. But the deal fell through owing to pricing issues and other developments. Thereafter, the tender was cancelled. A fresh tender for 24 MH-60R helicopters was floated later and processed through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route of the U.S. government.

Another deal close to conclusion is of six additional AH-64E Apache attack helicopters for the Army. They will cost around $930 million. The Apaches from Boeing are being sourced through the direct commercial sale and the Foreign Military Sales route from the U.S. side.

Also under discussion is the sale of Large Aircraft Infrared Counter Measure (LAIRCM), a missile defence system for large aircraft (such as those used by VIPs).

A missile defence system, Integrated Air Defence Weapon System (IADWS), which was approved last week by the U.S. State Department and which is now with the U.S. Congress for its consideration for up to 30 days, is also in the works. That potential sale, which could be valued up to $1.867 billion, is likely to be taken up during U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper’s visit to India, which will likely happen in March.

It is understood that Mr. Trump will push for U.S. solutions to fighter jet competitions of the Indian Army and Navy during his trip.

( With inputs from

Sriram Lakshman

in Washington, DC )

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