US approves India’s request for 24 ‘Romeo’ anti-submarine helicopters

The United States confirmed on Tuesday that it approved the sale of 24 MH-60R helicopters to India, which will significantly help boost India’s firepower to target submarines as China expands into the Indian Ocean.

India submitted a request last year, the State Department said it was informing the US Congress as legally required that it was giving the green light for India to buy the 24 helicopters worth a total of US$ 2.6 billion.

The choppers nicknamed ‘Romeo’, MH-60R helicopters manufactured by Lockheed Martin are designed for hunting submarines as well as knocking out ships and conducting search and rescue operations in the sea.

The State Department said in a statement, “This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the US-Indian strategic relationship and to improve the security of a major defensive partner, (India is) a major defensive partner which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region.”

India, usually who picked most of its defence purchases from Russia, lately India emerged as one of the leading defense partner with the States over a rising China and Islamist extremism.

Once the deliveries of the 24 MH-60R helicopters would be inducted into the Indian forces, it would significantly boost firepower to target submarines as China expands in the Indian Ocean.

China has been growing interest in the Indian Ocean as it becomes a global naval power.

China has made use of a growing number of naval bases in the Indian Ocean, most notably the Gwadar port it is developing in India’s historic rival Pakistan.

Indian naval planners have responded with a doctrine to ensure freedom of movement throughout the Indian Ocean, stretching from the Strait of Hormuz to the Strait of Malacca.

The Romeos would likly replace the aging fleet of British made Sea King helicopters.

Source : Various