Actualizing the ‘Capability-Based Perspective Plan’ 24 MH – 60R Multi-Role Helicopters (MRH) are being procured under the ‘Buy (Global)’ Category through Foreign Military Sales the Contract for which was signed on 25 February 2020.
These heptrs will be a replacement for the Sea King 42/42A helicopters already decommissioned in the 1990s and envisaged to operate from front-line ships and aircraft carriers providing them the critical attributes of flexibility of operation, enhanced surveillance, and attacking capability. The delivery of the helicopters is planned to commence early 2021 and comes at a time when the Indian Ocean region is witnessing increasing security threats due to the proliferation of submarines.
The heptrs can be effectively employed for offensive and defensive roles including Anti-Submarine Warfare, Anti-Ship Strike, Low-Intensity Maritime Operations, Search and Rescue, over the horizon Network Centric Operations, and Electronic Warfare. The heptrs’ capability of prolonged maritime operations and seamless integration with the P8i and ships at sea makes it a crucial ‘Force Multiplier’.
As part of the Indian Navy’s commitment to the ‘Make in India’ initiative, the OEM M/s Lockheed Martin would also be discharging offsets through transfer of technology (ToT) to Indian Offset Partners for the manufacture of products and services. This would enable the absorption of niche technology, skill development, and manufacture of eligible products/services leading to the generation of employment, skilling of MSMEs, and indigenous production of products for buy-back by the OEM.
The acquisition of MH-60R provides the Indian Navy with a key capability and effectively contributes to the Make in India initiative.
(The writer is a Delhi-based independent contributor to print and online publications)