The Indian Navy is likely to sign the $2 billion (INR 13,700 crore) deal for 24 Lockheed Martin MH60R helicopters by October this year.
The contract under the US Foreign Military Sales the programme is to replace the fleet of Sea King Mk 42B/C and Ka-28 helicopters. India has had a major requirement for anti-submarine hunter helicopters for over a decade now.
Deliveries are expected to begin in 2020 and are likely to be completed in 48 months.
A Letter of Agreement (LOA) is expected from the US Government next month, sources were quoted as saying by the Financial Express.
Dr Vivek Lall, currently Vice President of Strategy and Business Development, Lockheed Martin, is expected to offer 30 percent in offsets as part of this contract to enable the Indian industry to grow their capability.
The Indian Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) had cleared purchase of the helicopters just before the inaugural “two-plus-two” dialogue between India and the US last September. The Indian government issued a letter of request to the US for the procurement of 24 naval multi-role MH-60 helicopters armed with torpedoes and missiles in November 2018.
The DAC had also approved over $3 billion (INR 21,000 crore) procurement of 111 armed naval utility helicopters under the “strategic partnership (SP)” policy.
MH-60R Seahawk missions are anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, surveillance, communications relay, combat search and rescue, naval gunfire support and logistics support.
The helicopter’s airframe is based on that of the Sikorsky S-70B, a venerable but ageing naval helicopter. It comes with the latest generation cockpit and avionics, and changes to its tail-wheel to ease handling on a ship deck. The aircraft comes with a variety of sensors and weapons including the potent MK54 torpedo that can take out both ships and submarines.