US President Donald Trump announced the United States would improve defence pacts with India. Speaking at the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad on Monday, President Trump announced the US would sign a $3 billion defence deal with India on Tuesday. He said emphasised that the US would become India’s premier defence partner.
“I’m pleased to announce that tomorrow our representatives will sign deals to sell over $3 billion, in the absolute finest state of the art military helicopters and other equipment to the Indian armed forces,” Trump said.
“As we continue to build our defence cooperation, the US looks forward to providing India with some of the best & most feared military equipment on the planet. We make the greatest weapons ever made. We make the best and we are dealing now with India,” he added.
Key aspect of the defence deal on Tuesday is expected to be the purchase of MH-60 multi-role helicopters for Indian Navy. The acquisition was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security last week. The government-to-government deal involves acquisition of 24 MH-60R Seahawk maritime helicopters from the US-based Lockheed Martin group. The MH-60Rs will be purchased directly from the US government under a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement with the US Department of Defence (DoD). The deal, valued at $2.6 billion, was approved in August 2018 by then Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The US Department of State gave its approval in April 2019.
The MH-60s, which are currently deployed with the US Navy, are considered to be the most capable naval helicopters available today. They are capable of conducting highly efficient reconnaissance missions and have been designed to hunt down submarines and will add to the strategic depth and combat capability of the Indian Navy. The fleet will boost the Indian Navy’s anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare operations.
The MH 60 multi-role Romeo Sikorsky helicopters will replace ageing British-made Sea King helicopters. The first batch of MH-60 Romeo helicopters is scheduled to be delivered by Lockheed Martin within two years. The multi-role helicopters will be deployed on warships and will be very effective in keeping the submarine threat posed by the extra-regional Navies, including China and Pakistan, in the Indian Ocean Region. These helicopters will be used in Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW), Anti Surface warfare (ASuW), Command and Control, ESM roles besides Search and Rescue (SAR), Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP) roles, etc.