The Defence Ministry cleared 60 new Utility Helicopters (Marine) for the Indian Navy to meet the force’s requirements.

The Navy is facing an acute shortage of helicopters on its frontline warships but procurement of new ones has been repeatedly delayed. A tender for 111 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH), being processed through the Strategic Partnership route of procurement procedure, was under the scanner as a part of the review by the DAC of all ‘Buy Global’ deals. It was however scrapped and instead the decision to take the indigenous route was adopted.

According to official sources, the UH Marine is a variant of the DHRUV chopper and would be ready for maritime requirements by 2025-2026.

The Defence Ministry has also cleared the acquisition of nine DHRUV MK-IV choppers for the Indian Coast Guard worth over Rs 3,800 crore.

Earlier in August 2022 at Cochin International Airport, the American Navy delivered two MH-60 R multipurpose helicopters to the Indian Navy, and soo after another chopper was also delivered. The remaining MH-60R helicopters will be delivered by the end of 2025. Under its Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, the US Department of State has authorised the sale of 24 MH-60R multi-mission helicopters to India worth about $2.6 billion.

With the proposed purchase of these maritime choppers, India will have the ability to carry out secondary tasks including vertical replenishment, search and rescue operations, and communications relay in addition to anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare operations. India will use the improved capabilities to reinforce its domestic defence and act as a deterrent to regional threats. According to the Navy, the helicopters will also be useful for a variety of tasks, such as ship strikes and specialised maritime operations.