The “direct commercial sale” of the six Apaches, in turn, is basically a follow-on order to the 22 such helicopters already inducted by IAF under a Rs 13,952 crore deal inked with the US in September 2015. “The Army should get the deliveries of the six choppers, armed with Stinger air-to-air missiles, Hellfire Longbow air-to-ground missiles, guns and rockets, around 2022-2023,” said a source.

The MH-60Rs, which are armed with Hellfire missiles, MK-54 torpedoes and precision-kill rockets, are considered a “critical operational necessity” for the Navy because its warships are virtually bereft of such helicopters at a time when Chinese nuclear and diesel-electric submarines are making regular forays into the Indian Ocean Region. The 140-warship force has just about a dozen old Sea King and 10 Kamov-28 anti-submarine warfare helicopters operational as of now.

As was first reported by TOI in June last year, the 24 MH-60Rs and six Apache helicopters are part of the several lucrative defence deals worth over $10 billion being lined up for the US by India over the next two-three years.

The others include six more P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft ($1.8 billion), the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System-II for the missile shield over Delhi ($1.8 billion), 30 Sea Guardian armed drones (over $2.5 billion) and 13 big MK-45 naval gun systems for warships ($1.02 billion). “These deals will take some time to be finalised and inked,” said the source.

During his visit, President Trump is also expected to push the case for a US fighter -- F/A-18, F-15EX or F-21 (upgraded version of F-16) -- to be selected for the mega “Make in India” project to produce 114 jets for the IAF for around $20 billion. The US is also in contention to supply 57 multi-role fighters capable of operating from aircraft carriers for the Indian Navy.

India and the US have also identified seven defence projects for co-development and production under the bilateral Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI). These include air-launched small aerial systems (drone swarms), light-weight small arms technology, ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, targeting and reconnaissance) systems and anti-drone technology called “counter-UAS rocket, artillery and mortar systems”, as was reported by TOI in October last year.