The Indian Navy welcomed the first two Sikorsky MH-60R from the US Navy in a ceremony held at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, another sign of the two countries' growing defence cooperation and engagement. It will undertake a variety of combat tasks from the decks of navy warships.
Taranjit Singh Sandhu, India's ambassador, formally accepted the helicopters which are the first of 24 Seahawk helicopters purchased by the Indian Navy for $2.12 billion last year.
Sikorsky Helicopters, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, is set to deliver four more Seahawks this year.
The Seahawk was first inducted into the US Navy in 2006, and it now has around 300 units on duty around the world, including the US, Danish, Australian, and Saudi Arabian navies.
According to Lockheed Martin, it boasts a mission availability rate of nearly 98 per cent and the cheapest life-cycle cost in its class, with each flying hour costing less than $5,000.
One of the navy's main operational deficiencies is a lack of MRHs. The navy is currently operating with only ten Seaking Mark 42B/C helicopters. As the Seakings left, the navy's aircraft carriers had their helicopter hangars emptied, reducing the warships' combat effectiveness dramatically.
The navy ordered 24 MH-60R Seahawks in the fully constructed condition through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme. Also, FMS proposed another 99 Seahawks to be produced in India via the Strategic Partner (SP) route.
According to a Pentagon statement, the deal includes 24 fully trained and armed helicopters, 12 spare engines, 6 spare multimode radars, and 6 multispectral targeting systems. The Pentagon informed the US Congress of the proposed sale on April 2, 2019, “at an estimated cost of $2.6 billion.”
The MH-60R is the world's most modern marine multi-purpose helicopter, with a mission performance that is second to none, said William L. Blair, chief of Lockheed Martin India.