On July 28, two 24 MH-60 “Romeo” multi-mission helicopters were delivered to the Indian Navy, enhancing the Navy’s overall combat capabilities in the Indian Ocean and Indo-Pacific regions.
The Special Air Assignment Mission Flight of the US Air Force delivered the choppers at Cochin airport. Meanwhile, the MH-60S recently gained attention on July 26 when a storm damaged several of them. A few MH-53E were also damaged in the incident.
The delivered helicopters are part of the 24 MH-60R Multirole helicopters India purchased from the United States at over US $2.6 billion. The Indian Navy crew is being trained on the helicopters by the US.
On August 22, another helicopter is expected to be delivered to India. With the delivery on July 28, the Indian Navy received a total of five helicopters. Hellfire missiles and deadly rocket systems will be mounted on 24 all-weather helicopters.
“The delivery of all the 24 MH-60R multirole helicopters will be completed by 2025. The induction of these helicopters will significantly boost the integral Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capability of the Indian Navy,” said the Indian Navy officials.
? Romeos are approaching India. We repeat. Romeos IV, V and VI are approaching India.
— Lockheed Martin India (@LMIndiaNews) July 28, 2022
Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky, a US-based company, also posted a teaser on July 28, announcing the arrival of MH-60R multi-mission helicopters for the Indian Navy. In a tweet, Lockheed Martin’s social media account stated, “Romeos are approaching India. We repeat. Romeos IV, V, and VI are approaching India.”
MH-60R To Strengthen The Indian Navy?
These helicopters will strengthen the Indian Navy’s ability to conduct anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare in the Indian Ocean and Indo-Pacific regions. The helicopters will be modified with cutting-edge sensors, avionics, and India-specific weapons and equipment.
Speaking to EurAsian Times, former Indian Navy Vice-Admiral Shekhar Sinha discussed the potential uses of the helicopter.
The helicopter can perform specific tasks, including surface ship reconnaissance to update the Maritime Domain Picture at sea and identify adversary submarines within its Radius of Operation.
Sinha pointed out, “MH-60R is a contemporary Anti-Submarine & Anti-Surface Warfare Helicopter. It is one of the best. The Indian Navy was in dire need of such helicopters to replace Sea King 42A/B ASW helicopters which were difficult to maintain due to obsolescence.”
“Also, each Destroyer and Frigate is expected to operate at least one helicopter each of this type to provide reconnaissance well ahead of the ship/fleet to minimize the submarine threat,” the former Indian Navy Vice-Admiral said.
Sinha explained that “MH-60R is particularly important at the time of departure and arrival of ships/fleet from and to a harbor. Also, at the choke points of the Indian Ocean, these helicopters will play a significant role in locating submarines and, in times of war, destroy them. Their arrival is a powerful improvement to ASW capability of IN.”
These aircraft can launch submarine detection sonobuoys during ASW operations, both active and passive, and can identify unknown submarines and ships lurking in the water.
The helicopter can detect submarines that are submerged in the water. ASW assets are crucial to have on board for any fleet moving on the high seas. The latest assets will aid the Indian Navy in warning of potential enemy stealth submarine attacks.
Both the P-8I and the MH-60R are equipped with the ability to fire torpedoes, and together, they serve as an ASW screen and will aid in neutralizing any hostile submarine or underwater threats.
The 10-month training period for the first MH 60R “Romeo” aircrew group was completed at Naval Air Station, North Island, in San Diego, USA. The crew underwent conversion and other advanced qualifications as part of their MH-60H training.
These helicopters, produced by the US company Lockheed Martin, are sold through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program in a deal worth $2.6 billion. They will significantly impact the Indo-Pacific Region, where the Chinese Navy is expanding its presence.
These helicopters, which will replace the outdated British Sea King helicopters currently in use, are the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk naval variants. These helicopters, which belong to the Sikorsky S-70 family and are the fourth generation, can be armed with missiles and torpedoes for ASW action.