India looking to buy MH-60 helicopter from US

Government of India has submitted a “letter of intent” to US counterpart for the acquisition of 24 naval multi-role MH-60 ‘Romeo’ helicopters for a combined value of US$2 billion

November 17, 2018

The contract, which comes on the heels of US-India defence partnership gaining new strengths, is expected to be finalised in the coming months

India has recently become a Major Defense Partner of the US, and signed the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA)

The MH-60 order will valuate US-India defence trade at more than US$20 billion, backed by new orders as well as joint manufacturing initiatives

Global defence manufacturers, from US to France to Russia, are lining up to cater to India’s requirements for all three verticals of the armed forces

Government of India has submitted an interest to the US counterpart for the acquisition of 24 multi-role MH-60 Romeo Seahawk anti-submarine helicopters with a combined valuation of around US$2 billion, according to media reports on November 17, citing an official announcement. The contract, which comes on the heels of US-India defence partnership gaining new strengths, is expected to be finalised in the coming months. Following the delivery of the ordered being discussed currently, it is expected that the builder, Lockheed Martin Corp, will manufacture a much bigger follow up order in India.

While commemorating 70 years of diplomatic cooperation through a bilateral summit in New Delhi in September 2018, Indian and US governments had agreed to bolsters strategic partnership and promote synergy in diplomatic and security efforts. Talks at the summit included a deal to expand India’s status as a Major Defense Partner (MDP) of the US as well as the signing of the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA). Meanwhile, bilateral defence trade and sharing of technology and equipment has already recorded a rapid increase in recent years with plans of further expansion.

India has also recently been included by the US among the top tier of nations with access to license-free exports, re-exports and transfers under the License Exception Strategic Trade Authorization (STA-1). The growing cooperation has strengthened co-production and co-development projects under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI). As a result, while Lockheed Martin and India’s Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) are jointly producing the F-16 Block 70 fighter jets in India, Boeing and TASL have set up a plant to manufacture fuselages for AH-64 Apache helicopter in India for the global market.

The MH-60 order will valuate US-India defence trade at more than US$20 billion. The deal comes as global defence manufacturers, from US to France to Russia, are lining up to cater to India’s fast-growing defence requirement for all three verticals of the armed forces. Besides lucrative cross-border trade deals, this has opened up opportunities for foreign investment in indigenous manufacturing.