India to buy 24 MH-60R Seahawk naval helicopters in 2019

The Indian Defense ministry is expected to move forward with the procurement of 24 MH-60R Seahawk naval helicopters by this year’s end, Franz-Stefan Gady reports on The Diplomat.

India to buy 24 MH 60R Seahawk naval helicopters in 2019 Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk (Picture source: US Navy)

India is expected to sign a $2 billion-plus contract for the procurement of 24 Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk multirole naval helicopters. “The LOR (letter of request) and LOA (letter of acceptance) procedures [are on track] and we should be ready by the end of the year,” Admiral Karambir Singh was quoted as saying by The Economic Times on July 25.

The helicopters will be directly bought from the U.S. government under a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense to expedite the procurement of the new helicopters. Let’s remind that India’s Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) approved the procurement of 111 armed light naval utility helicopters (NUH) and 24 naval multirole helicopters (NMRH) for the Indian Navy under the Indian Ministry of Defense’s new strategic partnership policy in August 2018.

The MoD in February issued a new Expression of Interest (EOI) officially relaunching the entire NUH procurement process, following the breakdown of negotiations over the purchase of 16 U.S.-made Sikorsky S-70B-x helicopters, although their acquisition had already been cleared in 2014 by the DAC. The new EOI calls for 16 helicopters directly bought from abroad, and the remaining 95 to be manufactured in India. The 24 NMRHs will now be directly purchased from the United States and not fall under the MoD’s strategic partnership policy.

The U.S. State Department cleared the possible sale of 24 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters in April 2019 for an estimated $2.6 billion, Franz-Stefan Gady recalls. The FMS deal includes 30 APS-153(V) Multi-Mode radars, 60 T700-GE-401C engines, 24 Airborne Low Frequency System (ALFS), 1,000 AN/SSQ-36/53/62 sonobuoys; 30 MK 54 torpedoes; 10 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles; 38 Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System (APKWS) rockets; and 70 AN/AVS-9 Night Vision Devices, in addition to other equipment and parts.

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