In what can be described as a big boost for the Indian defences, the US has reportedly approved the sale of 24 multi-role MH-60R Seahawk maritime helicopters to India at a cost of $ 2.6 billion for the Indian Navy. The new helicopters will replace the 48-year old Sea King helicopters. The statement by the US State Department approving the sale of 24 MH-60 R Seahawks read, “This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the US-Indian 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.” As per the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency, “the proposed sale will provide India the capability to perform anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare missions along with the ability to perform secondary missions including vertical replenishment, search and rescue and communications relay.”
Till now, the Sea King helicopters have remained the mainstay anti-submarine helicopters for the Indian Navy. The helicopters are designed to detect submarines and take them out using torpedoes. However, the Navy has found it extremely difficult to maintain the 48-year old helicopters over the last decade. Only a handful of these helicopters remain operational as parts have been tough to come by. In fact, most of the Indian Navy’s warships have been operating without an anti-submarine helicopter. Chetak (Alouette III), a 60-year old helicopter is being currently used by the warships for multi-purpose duties.
The MH-60 R Seahawks are considered to be the world’s most advanced maritime helicopters. As per experts, it is the most capable naval helicopters designed to operate from naval warships. As per the US Naval Air System Command, the MH 60 R Seahawk missions are anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, surveillance, communications relay, combat search and rescue, naval gunfire support and logistics support.
The MH 60 helicopters are going to prove a major shot in the arm for the Indian Navy capabilities and is going to counter the expanding Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean region. The Modi government has done well to ensure that the deal is struck and the helicopters are acquired just in time in face of the ageing Sea King helicopters. In fact, the Modi government made it a point throughout its tenure to equip the Indian defence forces with modern and advanced weapons in order to sufficiently strengthen India’s defences. Modi government has been on a weapons shopping spree in order to fulfill India’s defence needs. The purchase of Rafale jets, S-400 air defence system deal and reports of the upcoming deal for AK 103 rifles that will empower the infantry troops like never before are all examples of how the Modi government has not left any stone unturned when it comes to fulfilling India’s defence needs.
It can be safely said that one of the biggest achievements of the Modi government has been to do away with the lax defence policy of the UPA era which had led to the military forces operating with outdated weapons clearly putting the forces at a disadvantage. Modi government has been able to stage a turnaround as far as India’s military strength is concerned. This will go down as one of the biggest achievements of the present government.