Sikorsky officially signed a contract with the US Navy to provide 24 examples of the MH-60R helicopter to the Indian navy for anti-submarine warfare

The $905 million deal with New Delhi was anticipated, as it was reportedly cleared by the Indian Ministry of Defence in February. The sale will be handled by the USN via the Foreign Military Sale process. The first helicopter delivery to the Indian Navy is anticipated in spring 2021.

In the official US government contract notice, the USN is ordering three MH-60Rs, while India is ordering 21 examples. 

“The US Navy has allowed us to leverage three aircraft from their inventory of brand new aircraft that have never been introduced into the fleet — in order to provide them to the Indian Navy so they can begin training on a more accelerated basis than might normally be possible,” says Tom Kane, director of Sikorsky naval helicopter programs.

Sikorsky declines to say what weapons and subsystems the Indian navy’s MH-60Rs would have. However, the manufacturer says the equipment would enable anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare, as well as special operations, search and rescue, utility, vertical replenishment, and command and control missions.

Previously, the helicopters were to include weapons such as AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System rockets and Mk54 torpedoes and crew served guns, according to a Foreign Military Sales approval notice sent to the US Congress in 2019. The package was also to include multi-mode radars, sonobuoys and multi-spectral targeting systems.

However, that former notice valued the possible deal at $2.6 billion, much higher than the package announced today, so it is not clear what weapons and related equipment would be included in the final sale.

”The initial value of $905 million as announced by the US Navy today is for production of these aircraft. Additional follow-on work is required for unique modifications and systems, which is currently going through the bid and proposal process,” says Kane, noting Sikorsky is still negotiating with the US government. ”Prices can vary depending on specific requirements, unique equipment, length and scale of support, training and logistics packages.”

The main operator of the MH-60R helicopter is the USN, which has 289 examples in its fleet. It plans to fly the aircraft through 2040. The Royal Danish Navy, Royal Australian Navy and Royal Saudi Naval Forces fly the aircraft as well.

The Indian navy is also searching for 111 Naval Utility Helicopters to replace its aging fleet of Hindustan Aeronautics Chetak helicopters. Those new helicopters are intended for search and rescue, casualty evacuation, passenger and cargo transportation and torpedo drop roles.

India wants 95 helicopters out of the 111 Naval Utility Helicopters to be manufactured in country. The local offset would help replace production for the Chetak, a version of the Airbus Alouette III built in India under license.