During his speech in Ahmedabad on Monday (February 24), United States President Donald Trump announced: “deals to sell over $3 billion in the absolute finest, state-of-the-art military helicopters and other equipment to the Indian Armed Forces.”
The following day, after a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Trump said that the “agreements for India to purchase… advanced American military equipment, including Apache and MH-60 Romeo helicopters… will enhance our joint defence capabilities as our militaries continue to train and operate side-by-side”.
The India-US Joint Statement issued at the end of the presidential visit noted that “President Trump welcomed India’s recent decision to procure MH-60R naval and AH-64E Apache helicopters”.
Since no major trade deal was announced, these defence purchases by India are the biggest business takeaways from Trump’s visit.
MH-60 Romeo helicopters
The incoming 24 multirole MH-60 Romeo helicopters are expected to boost the Indian Navy’s efforts to expand its role in the Indian Ocean Region. The Navy had long asked for these helicopters, and the $2.2 billion deal was cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security last week.
The MH-60 Romeo Seahawk, made by defence giant Lockheed Martin, is one of the most advanced naval helicopters in the world, used by the US Navy among others. It will be purchased directly from the US government under a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement with the US Department of Defence (DoD).
It is the most capable and mature Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) multi-mission helicopter available in the world today, the makers say.
The MH-60 is designed to hunt down submarines and will add to the strategic depth and combat capability of the Indian Navy. It is capable of launching Hellfire missiles from the right and left extended pylons.
It also has an advanced system for passive detection, location, and identification of emitters. It can not only track and hunt ships, but is also used by the US Navy as an anti-submarine weapon.
MH-60 Romeo Seahawks have equipped with anti-submarine Mark 54 torpedoes and Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, along with precision-kill rockets.
The Army will receive six Apache helicopters that will cost approximately $800 million.
The six choppers for the Army will be in addition to the 22 Apache helicopters that have already been ordered for the Air Force. This will be a direct commercial sale.
The Apaches can operate at high altitudes, and will be deployed along the Pakistan border. The Army is likely to get the helicopters armed with Stinger air-to-air missiles and Hellfire Longbow air-to-ground missiles.
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Among the Apache’s modern capabilities are the ability to shoot fire-and-forget anti-tank missiles, air-to-air missiles, rockets, and other munitions. It also has modern electronic warfare capabilities to provide versatility in network-centric aerial warfare.
The choppers are all-weather capable and have high agility and survivability against battle damage. They can be easily maintained in field conditions as well as during operations in the tropical and desert regions.
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