The MH-60 Romeo’ for which India and the US signed a $2.6 billion government to government deal on Tuesday is superior in certain aspects to the MH-60Rs operated by the US Navy

Indian Navy officials told MAIL TODAY that India’s MH-60s will have a total of four weapon stations, double those on the US helicopters, allowing them far more mission flexibility.

The Indian MH-60s will carry French FLASH’ dunking sonar, which was judged by the Indian navy to be supe rior to the US Navy’s HELRAS (Helicopter Long-Range Active Sonar).

The Folding Light Acoustic System for Helicopters’ as it is called, is a low-frequency wideband sonar used by helicopters to detect, locate, track and attack lurking enemy submarines.

The first six MH-60s will be delivered to the Navy a year from now and will, however, be in the US Navy configuration. This is to enable the Navy to begin training its pilots and maintenance crews on the US machine.

The multi-role helicopter is one of the most capable machines that the Navy will operate; one officer called it the equivalent of going from an Ambassador to a BMW’.

Each MH-60 carries two Mark 54 lightweight torpedoes, currently one of the world’s most advanced air-dropped torpedoes.

The Mark 54 which has a speed of around 40 knots and a range of 20 kilometres, are already operated by the P-8I Poseidons in the Indian Navy’s inventory.

Another huge capability addition is the fact that the MH-60s can operate in concert with the P-8I Poseidons forming a lethal tag-team. The P-8Is can drop over 30 sonobuoys floating aircraft base sensors that listen for submarine activity.

MH-60s can access data from the sonobuoys. Multi-role choppers, thus called because of their abilities to attack warships, submarines and act as reconnaissance platforms.

They are embarked on frigates and destroyers each such vessel can carry two multi-role helicopters. The 24 MH-60Rs which will be delivered over the next five years will fill a major void in the Navy’s anti-submarine warfare capabilities.

It comes at a time when both Pakistan and China have invested heavily in submarines. Pakistan has contracted to buy eight new Chinese Yuan class submarines, to add to its existing fleet of three submarines.