6 Apaches for Indian Army & 30 Armed Naval Choppers Finalised for $3.5-bn Before of President Trump Visit to India

DefenceXP Author / 13 February 2020

Source- TOI

  • India has finalized two more mega defence deals with the US, together worth over $3.5 billion (Rs 25,000 crore) for 30 heavy-duty armed helicopters, in the run-up to President Donald Trump’s visit here on February 24-25.
  • These soon-to-be-inked deals will take the total value of Indian defence contracts bagged by the US just since 2007 to well past the $20 billion mark. The $2.6 billion deal for 24 MH-60 `Romeo’ multi-mission helicopters for the Navy and the $930 million one for six AH-64E Apache attack choppers for the Army are set to be cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) by next week, said sources on Wednesday.
  • “India will pay an initial 15% instalment for the MH-60R helicopters under the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) government-to-government deal. Once the contract is inked, the first lot of the choppers will be delivered in two years. All 24 will come in four to five years,” said a source.
  • The “direct commercial sale” of the six Apaches, in turn, is basically a follow-on order to the 22 such helicopters already inducted by IAF under a Rs 13,952 crore deal inked with the US in September 2015. “The Army should get the deliveries of the six choppers, armed with Stinger air-to-air missiles, Hellfire Longbow air-to-ground missiles, guns and rockets, around 2022-2023,” said a source.
  • The MH-60Rs, which are armed with Hellfire missiles, MK-54 torpedoes and precision-kill rockets, are considered a “critical operational necessity” for the Navy because its warships are virtually bereft of such helicopters at a time when Chinese nuclear and diesel-electric submarines are making regular forays into the Indian Ocean Region. The 140-warship force has just about a dozen old Sea King and 10 Kamov-28 anti-submarine warfare helicopters operational as of now.
  • As was first reported by TOI in June last year, the 24 MH-60Rs and six Apache helicopters are part of the several lucrative defence deals worth over $10 billion being lined up for the US by India over the next two-three years.
  • The others include six more P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft ($1.8 billion), the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System-II for the missile shield over Delhi ($1.8 billion), 30 Sea Guardian armed drones (over $2.5 billion) and 13 big MK-45 naval gun systems for warships ($1.02 billion). “These deals will take some time to be finalized and inked,” said the source.
  • During his visit, President Trump is also expected to push the case for a US fighter -- F/A-18, F-15EX or F-21 (upgraded version of F-16) -- to be selected for the mega “Make in India” project to produce 114 jets for the IAF for around $20 billion.
  • The US is also in contention to supply 57 multi-role fighters capable of operating from aircraft carriers for the Indian Navy.
  • India and the US have also identified seven defence projects for co-development and production under the bilateral Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI). These include air-launched small aerial systems (drone swarms), light-weight small arms technology, ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, targeting and reconnaissance) systems and anti-drone technology called “counter-UAS rocket, artillery and mortar systems”, as was reported by TOI in October last year.

​​​​​​​Jai Hind

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