India will soon be sending a team to the US for induction of the MH-60 “Romeo” multi-mission helicopters, which will be a significant capability jump for the Navy in detecting and destroying enemy submarines prowling in the Indian Ocean Region.
The Navy will this year get at least three of the 24 heavy-duty helicopters, equipped with multi-mode radars and night-vision devices as well as armed with Hellfire missiles, MK-54 torpedoes and precision-kill rockets, under the Rs 15,157 crore ($2.13 billion) contract inked with the US in February 2020. The 140-warship Navy is currently grappling with just a handful of old antisubmarine warfare helicopters like Kamov-28s and Sea Kings when the presence of Chinese nuclear and diesel-electric submarines is only going to increase in IOR.
“All the 24 MH-60R helicopters, which will operate from frontline warships including aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, will be inducted by end-2023 or so. It will somewhat plug the critical operational gap on this front. The team of pilots and technicians for training and induction of the MH-60Rs will be going to the US in May-June,” said a defence ministry source.
ASW choppers typically fly ahead of warships to “dunk” their sonars into deep waters, “ping” for enemy submarines, and then fire missiles, torpedoes and depth charges to clear the path for the fleet during hostilities. They can also undertake antiship strikes, over the horizon network-centric operations and electronic warfare missions. Manufactured by Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin, the MH-60Rs will be the d type of iconic US helicopters to be inducted by Indian armed forces.