In another sign of strengthening the Indo-US defense partnership, the US Navy handed over the first two MH-60R multi-role helicopters to the Indian Navy. The Indian Navy is procuring these 24 helicopters manufactured by Lockheed Martin, which are estimated to be worth $2.4 billion, under foreign military sales from the US government.
The helicopters were formally handed over to the Indian Navy by the US Navy at a ceremony held on Friday at the Naval Air Station North Island or NAS North Island in San Diego. Indian Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu attended the ceremony. Ambassador Sandhu said the induction of the all-weather multi-role helicopters into the fleet is an important step in the Indo-US bilateral defense relationship. He tweeted, "India-US friendship is scaling new heights."
He said bilateral defense trade has grown to over $20 billion in the last few years. Apart from defense trade, India and the US are also working together on the co-development of defense fora. Sandhu referred to the reforms taken by India in the defense sector in recent times, which have opened up new opportunities for foreign investors.
The MH-60R helicopter is an all-weather helicopter, designed to support multiple missions with new aviation technologies. The induction of these MRHs will enhance the three-dimensional capabilities of the Indian Navy. The helicopters will also be equipped with many specialized equipment and weapons. The first batch of Indian crew is currently undergoing training in the US.
According to the Defense Department, the proposed sale will enhance India's anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare capabilities. India will use these capabilities to counter regional threats and strengthen its country's defense. The Indian government had approved the purchase of the helicopter in February 2020, weeks before the historic visit of former US President Donald Trump