On 25 August, India’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved the start of negotiations for the procurement of 111 light naval utility and 24 Lockheed Martin Sikorsky MH-60R anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters.
According to the statement, the DAC has earmarked INR460 billion ($6.4 billion) for new military equipment including helicopters for the navy and artillery for the army.
India has moved closer towards acquiring a 24 Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky MH-60R maritime helicopters for a replacement of its old fleet of Sea King anti-submarine/utility helicopters.
The usually credible defense news website, Livefist, reported that the move is the first major step towards an expanded requirement detailed by the Indian Navy last year for 123 medium multirole helicopters to replace the Mk.42B and UH-3H Seakings service.
The move also brings to a formal end all speculation that the MH-60R’s older cousin, the Sikorsky S-70B, was being considered for a smaller fleet of 18 units. In a troubled earlier iteration of the contract in question here, designated MRH (multirole helicopter), the Indian Navy had veered towards the Sikorsky S-70B in a face-off against the NH Industries NH90.
With Lockheed Martin’s acquisition of Sikorsky and the expanded requirement in mind, the S-70 Bravo fell off the table, making way for the more capable MH-60 Romeo and the number pushed up to 24.
The MH-60R is equipped with a highly sophisticated combat system designed to employ Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and the Mark 54 anti-submarine torpedo. The primary missions of the helicopter is anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare. Secondary missions include search and rescue, logistics support, personnel transport and medical evacuation.