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• The US has approved the sale of 24 multi-role MH-60R Seahawk maritime helicopters to India at an estimated cost of USD 2.6 billion, boosting Indian Navy’s anti-surface and anti-submarine operations as China expands its presence in Indian Ocean.
• Designed for hunting submarines as well as knocking out ships and conducting search-and-rescue operations at sea, the Lockheed Martin-built helicopters would replace India’s ageing fleet of British-made Sea King helicopters.
• It will provide the Indian defence forces the capability to perform anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare missions.
• The helicopters are designed to operate from frigates, destroyers, cruisers and aircraft carriers.


• India is the second-largest importer of arms worldwide, just behind Saudi Arabia, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s 2018 report. Leading arms sellers to India include Russia, Israel and the US

• India made its request for the 24 Seahawk helicopters to the US in November in a government-to-government deal under the Foreign Military Sales route. The request was made weeks after the two countries signed the Communications, Compatibility, Security Agreement (COMCASA), a “foundational agreement’’ that allows the US to legally share high-end encrypted communication and satellite data with a friendly partner nation.


• The Seahawk helicopters made would be equipped with weapons such as Hellfire missiles, torpedoes and rockets. The proposed deal also includes one MH-60B/R Excess Defense Article (EDA) helicopter from the US Navy.
• These are multi-role helicopters—that is they can perform a variety of functions, including surveillance, replenishment and search and rescue. Principally, however, these helicopters are designed for an anti-submarine warfare role.


• This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the US-India strategic relationship and to improve the security of a major defensive partner which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region.

• They are to be employed mainly to sanitize littoral spaces where the Indian Navy’s warships are likely to be deployed.
Such helicopters, with anti- submarine capability are critical assets for any navy. Many of India’s frontline warships have been operating without integral helicopters

• The Seahawks would add to lethal capabilities of Indian Navy, which is need of hour given aggressive behaviour of China in the Indian Ocean region.

About MH-60R Maritime Helicopter

• Experts term it the most capable naval helicopter available today.
• It’s designed to operate from frigates, destroyers, cruisers and aircraft carriers.
• It is deployed with US Navy as the primary anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface weapon system for Open Ocean and littoral zones.
• Over 300 seahawk helicopters are in operation across the world, clocking over 6000,000 flight hours.
• Seahawks are used by the Navies of the US, Denmark, Australia and Saudi Arabia.

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