Indian Navy to Commission Advanced MH-60R Seahawk Helicopters

The Indian Navy is in the process of commissioning its first squadron of newly-acquired MH-60R Seahawk multirole helicopters at the naval base in Kochi, Kerala. Hailed as a force multiplier, the induction of these advanced US-built naval choppers aims to significantly bolster India’s maritime military capabilities.

MH-60R Capabilities to Enhance Indian Defence

The MH-60R Seahawk is the maritime variant of the battle-proven UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter used by multiple countries. Equipped for anti-submarine and anti-surface naval warfare, the MH-60Rs will extend the operational reach of Indian naval battle groups across the Indian Ocean region.

With a service ceiling of 20,000 feet, the choppers carry lightweight torpedoes, air-to-surface missiles and advanced sensors for long-range homing, hunting and destroying threats posed by enemy submarines and warships. Their versatile performance facilitates sustained, multi-mission naval deployments.

Squadron Commissioning Ceremony in Kochi

The Seahawks will be commissioned at the Indian Navy’s INAS 334 squadron at the naval air station in Kochi under the Western Naval Command. This frontline formation has been revived after 23 years following the decommissioning of the INAS 330 squadron.

The occasion also celebrates the fighters operating these platforms by assigning the squadron moniker “Condors”. The commissioning event will showcase the preparedness of personnel and infrastructure for sustaining MH-60R operations.

Timely Induction to bolster Regional Presence

The $2.6 billion deal for 24 MH-60Rs was signed in 2020 as part of defense agreements during President Donald Trump’s visit. Since then, the first batch of these naval choppers built by Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky division has been delivered after customization to Indian requirements.

Their timely induction comes as Chinese research, fishing and naval vessels increase activities across the Indian Ocean over recent years. With long legs, the MH-60Rs will enable monitoring far beyond India’s coastal waters. Equipped ships can also operate more effectively with aerial reconnaissance and anti-submarine support.

Boosts Strategic Island Capabilities

The MH-60R base in Kochi under Southern Naval Command allows rapid deployments around India’s island territories including Lakshadweep archipelago and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. This strengthens readiness to respond to threats by Chinese warships and submarines transiting the region.

Equipped with submarine hunting sonars, radars and torpedoes, MH-60Rs also enable effective sea denial during crisis, safeguarding India’s territorial waters and assets.

Tested To Operate In All Weather Conditions

The induction follows rigorous hot and high-altitude trials of MH-60Rs in varied conditions to validate integration with frontline warships. Technical and operational flight evaluations certified performance across diverse environments like those over the Arabian Sea and the Himalayas.

This ensures optimal proficiency for missions irrespective of harsh marine conditions or remote mountainous islands. Weapon firing tests also validated combat readiness to engage hostile threats. Such realistic testing proves MH-60R readiness for Indian carriers from Kochi to Kamorta.

Boosts Aerospace Ecosystem

Besides strengthening security capabilities, the MH-60R program grows India’s aerospace ecosystem via the ‘Buy and Make’ model requiring domestic production. Over $900 million worth components will be sourced locally by defense manufacturers like BEL, Larsen & Toubro, Data Patterns India etc.

This enables technical expertise in advanced avionics, mission computers, composites and sensors over the long run through technology absorption. Additional naval utility choppers may also emerge from indigenous capabilities nurtured.


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