New Delhi: Amidst the defence deals worth $3 billion inked by India and US on Tuesday is a deal that the Indian Navy has been waiting to sign for the last 14 years — for Romeo helicopters, or MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters. Under the agreement signed on the second day of US President Donald Trump's visit, India will procure 24 Romeo helicopters from the US at a cost of $2.6 billion. Another contract pertains to the acquisition of six AH-64E Apache helicopters for $800 million from the US.
The news was shared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump in a joint statement. "Earlier today, we expanded our defence cooperation with agreements for India to purchase more than US$3 billion of advanced American military equipment, including Apache & MH-60 Romeo Helicopters — the finest in the world. These will enhance our joint defence capabilities," Trump said. In his remarks, Modi said that the defence cooperation between India and US is reflective of the rising strategic partnership between the two nations.
Six Romeo helicopters are expected to be delivered early next year, and the remaining 18 are expected to follow in batches over two years. The procurement of the choppers mark the culmination of a 14-year-old Indian Navy procurement programme, called the Multirole Helicopter (MRH), which was first conceived in 2006-07. The Ministry of Defence had given a nod to the Indian Navy to pursue the acquisition of 24 Romeo helicopters in August 2018.
The deal signed on Tuesday for Apache helicopters follows a contract for 22 helicopters ordered by the Indian Air Force in 2015. While 17 of 22 helicopters have been delivered, the remaining five are expected to be delivered by the end of March. The deliveries of the additional six choppers are planned to begin in 2023.
In terms of capabilities, the AH-64E Apache helicopters for the IAF and the Indian Army will be identical.