As part of boosting the maritime surveillance capability by bolstering the carrier operations, the Indian Navy is prepared to take the first batch of advanced maritime surveillance choppers from US firm Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin, according to Financial Express.
This year, the Navy will get at least three of the 24 MH-60 “Romeo” multi-mission maritime surveillance helicopters, equipped with multi-mode radars and night-vision devices. They will be armed with Hellfire missiles, MK-54 torpedoes, and precision-kill rockets under the $2.13 billion contract sealed with the U.S. in February last year, marking a crucial step in the advancement of Naval assets.
Witnessing the development will be a significant capability leap for the Navy in critical missions like detecting and destroying enemy submarines prowling in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) due to the choppers superior airborne Anti-Submarine Warfare abilities. One of the strongest navies is currently struggling with older anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters, like Russian Kamov Ka-28s and British Sea Kings, when the presence of Chinese nuclear and diesel-electric submarines is only going to further increase in the IOR.
All the 24 MH-60R helicopters, which will operate from frontline warships including aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, will be inducted by the end of 2023.
MH-60R choppers fly ahead of warships to deploy their deep water sonars into the ocean to monitor the acoustic moments of enemy submarines, and then engage them with missiles, torpedoes and depth charges in order to clear the path for the fleet. They can also undertake anti-ship strikes, over the horizon network-centric operations and electronic warfare missions.
The Navy has also projected a long-term requirement for another 123 naval multi-role helicopters (NMRHs), after the 24 MH-60Rs, but the proposed “Make in India” project for them is still out of the sight amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.