India enhances naval capabilities with $300 million US arms deal

India has secured a weapons deal worth over $300 million from the US to arm its naval multi-role helicopters, enhancing their ability to counter enemy warships and submarines. The weapons are for the MH 60 ‘Romeo’ choppers, which are the most advanced multi-role helicopters currently in service with the Indian Navy. The fleet of 24 choppers will be equipped with additional Hellfire missiles and Mk 54 lightweight torpedoes, and the acquisition of these versatile naval choppers made by Sikorsky has been a top priority for the navy.

The MH 60 Romeos have been in service since last year when the first batch was delivered at Kochi, and they have been acquired to fill a critical capability gap in the navy. In the original contract signed with the US, only a limited amount of armaments were procured as crews were undergoing training and familiarisation with the new equipment. The Hellfire missiles are a potent anti-shipping weapon that can be used to take down other ground targets like tanks and command posts as well. They also have limited air-to-air capabilities.

The Mk 54 light-weight torpedoes, which are also equipped onboard the P8I maritime aircraft, are known to be a very effective anti-submarine weapon. The deal for MH 60 Romeo naval multi-role helicopters was signed in February 2020 at an estimated cost of $2 billion, and the delivery of all 24 anti-submarine helicopters is expected to be completed by 2025. The presence of these choppers onboard an Indian warship extends its combat range by a few hundred kilometres and keeps it safer as the enemy can be detected and taken down from a distance.

The last major weapons deal signed with the US was in August 2021 for the GE 404 fighter jet engines, which cost $716 million and were acquired to power the indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). The Indian Air Force has ordered 83 of these aircraft. The acquisition of the MH 60 Romeos is a significant step towards strengthening India’s defence capabilities, and it is expected to enhance the country’s strategic influence in the Indo-Pacific region. The Indian Navy is expected to utilise these advanced helicopters to protect the country’s maritime interests and maintain security in the region.

Technical Aspects

MH 60 Romeos

The MH 60 Romeo helicopters are multi-role naval choppers that are equipped with advanced technology to detect and neutralize submarines and surface vessels. These helicopters are manufactured by Sikorsky, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, and are currently the most advanced helicopters in service with the Indian Navy. They can operate in all weather conditions and are equipped with advanced sensors, radars, and avionics that enable them to locate, track and engage targets with high accuracy.

The MH 60 Romeo helicopters have a range of over 800 kilometres and can fly at speeds of up to 267 km/h. They are equipped with a range of weapons, including Hellfire missiles and lightweight torpedoes, that allow them to counter enemy vessels at sea. In addition to their anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities, the MH 60 Romeos can also perform search and rescue operations and provide support to ground troops during combat operations. With the acquisition of the MH 60 Romeos, the Indian Navy has significantly enhanced its capabilities to maintain maritime security and protect the country’s strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific region.

Image source: Naval Technology

Mk 54 light-weight torpedoes

The Mk 54 lightweight torpedoes are one of the most effective anti-submarine weapons in the Indian Navy’s arsenal. These torpedoes are designed to be launched from surface ships, helicopters, and fixed-wing aircraft and are equipped with sophisticated sensors and guidance systems that enable them to locate and track enemy submarines. They are also capable of operating in both shallow and deep waters, making them highly versatile in different maritime environments.

The acquisition of these torpedoes has significantly strengthened the Indian Navy’s anti-submarine warfare capabilities, enabling it to detect and neutralize enemy submarines before they can cause any harm to Indian naval assets or disrupt maritime trade routes.

Image source: NewsWeek

Hellfire Missiles

Hellfire missiles are one of the most potent anti-ship and anti-ground weapons in the Indian Navy’s arsenal. These air-to-surface missiles are capable of striking targets with high precision and accuracy from a significant distance. Hellfire missiles are equipped with powerful warheads that can cause extensive damage to enemy ships and ground targets like tanks, command posts, and other critical infrastructure. The Indian Navy’s acquisition of additional Hellfire missiles for its MH 60 Romeo helicopters has significantly enhanced its ability to counter enemy warships and other maritime threats in the region.

Furthermore, Hellfire missiles can also be used in air-to-air combat scenarios, thereby increasing the versatility of the Indian Navy’s MH 60 Romeo helicopters.

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