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India urgently seeks US advance helicopters citing ‘China threat’

India urgently seeks US advance helicopters citing ‘China threat’

India also urging France to deliver Rafale jet earlier than scheduled

WASHINGTON (PPA) — India’s urgent request to get sub-hunting US helicopters for its navy and the U.S. ambition to monitor Chinese naval capabilities led to the Americans giving up some of their own helicopters to fill the rushed delivery early next year.

Meanwhile India is also urging the U.S. to push France to deliver Rafale fighter planes earlier than scheduled while seeking advance war machines from Russia, South Korea, and Japan. 

India has finalized a $900 million deal with Sikorsky for 24 MH-60R helicopters that will help India identify and track Chinese submarines, drones and surface ships in the Indian Ocean. It is the largest defense contract that Lockheed Martin has signed with India.

“This really was one of the higher priorities the (Indian) Navy had,” Tom Kane, director of Sikorsky’s Naval Helicopter Programs was quoted as saying by Breakingdefense.com. “I requested that the aircraft be made available on an accelerated basis. So I think there is an urgent need”.

The Breaking Defense report further added that “With New Delhi in a hurry to begin getting the state-of-the-art helicopters into use, and the U.S. government eager to pull India closer as a hedge against growing Chinese naval capabilities, the US Navy allowed Sikorsky to take three of its brand new MH-60R Sea-Hawks and begin modifying them to Indian standards to deliver next spring.”

India has requested certain changes from the standard US Navy configuration in the communications and data sharing area such as the ability to talk to their satellites, Indian SATCOM data link and to communicate with their ships and some other modifications like a floatation system. 

“They’ll come off the line as ASW [anti-submarine warfare] aircraft so they’ll have the active dipping sonar,” the AN/APS-153 radar “and things that you would normally see on a US Navy configuration,” Kane said. The deal is the largest contract Sikorsky has signed with the Indian government. Unlike most other programs.

The company did not sign an offset agreement with India on the project which means the involvement of Indian defense industry in any maintenance and retrofit efforts in the coming years.

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