India has sought from the US 24 multi-role MH-60 ‘Romeo’ anti-submarine helicopters for its Navy at an estimated cost of USD 2 billion, defence industry sources here said. India has sent a letter of request to the US for an “urgent requirement” of 24 multi-role helicopters – MH 60 Romeo Seahawk.

India has been in need of these formidable anti-submarine hunter helicopters for more than a decade now. The Navy requires at least 123 of the Naval Multi Role Helicopters (NMRH) and had released a global request for information in August 2017.

As per a TOI report, the Indian Navy has been trying to procure these helicopters, which enable warships to locate and take down enemy submarines beyond the limited radius of onboard sensors, for years without success. The last attempt in 2005 ended in failure with the Navy now looking to get the advanced MH 60 ‘Romeo’ choppers from the US in direct government purchase.

The NMRH are required to replace the Sea King fleet and the Navy has named it as one of its most critical needs at several top government presentations. It will now get real time experience of the Romeos during the exercise.

Currently deployed with the US Navy as the primary anti-submarine warfare anti-surface weapon system for open ocean and littoral zones, Lockheed Martin’s MH-60R Seahawk helicopter is considered the world’s most advanced maritime helicopter reports Indian Express.

According to industry experts, it is the most capable naval helicopter available today designed to operate from frigates, destroyers, cruisers and aircraft carriers. MH-60 Romeo Seahawks would add lethal capabilities of the Indian Navy, which experts say is the need of the hour given the aggressive behaviour of China in the Indian Ocean region.

Till that is done, Indian warships like the INS Kamorta – a specialised antisubmarine corvette, will be limited in their ability to hunt submarines in the Indian Ocean Region. And that is a major gap in a vital region due to the increasing presence of Chinese submarines operating near Indian waters under the garb of anti piracy patrols. Indian Navy would need naval multi-role helicopters for such missions, but that is currently missing from the inventory. In view of the urgent need to augment obsolete/depleted inventories, the Navy may consider more Romeos in direct government purchase agreement in the near future.

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