The US Navy will transfer 3 new (and undelivered) MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters to the Indian Navy by the end of this year as part of the recent deal multi-billion deal for 24 helicopters. The deal, concluded in February this year when President Donald Trump was in India, was signed into contract on May 14 this year. While deliveries of the first six MH-60Rs was originally scheduled for next year, Livefist has learned that Sikorsky has received permission to divert three new (undelivered) MH-60Rs originally for US Navy, to the Indian Navy.
“The US Navy has allowed us to leverage three helicopters from their inventory of brand new aircraft that have never been introduced into the fleet – in order to provide them to the Indian Navy so they can begin training on a more accelerated basis than might normally be possible,” Tom Kane, Director, Sikorsky Naval Helicopter Programs told Livefist today.
On the remaining 21 helicopters, Kane said, “We are now in production of these aircraft, and we’re excited to be able to deliver the first of these aircraft to the India customer in Spring 2021.”
The three aircraft are fully built and were marked for delivery to the US Navy. After stipulated modifications, the airframes will be diverted for delivery to India. The decision taken earlier this month allows the US Government to deliver months ahead of a schedule that could otherwise see Covid19-linked delays.
“The Letter of Acceptance (LOA) signature that took place in February was between the governments of India and the United States. Upon that being finalized, there were then some administrative actions that needed to be accomplished first prior to the issuance of the contract from the U.S. Navy, which is what occurred on May 14,” Kane told Livefist earlier this month.
As Livefist reported in February during the government-to-government handshake, the arrival of the first helicopters will bring to an end a tense 14 year wait for multimission shipborne helicopters geared for the anti-ship and anti-submarine role. After the first 3 from the US Navy, the remaining 21 will follow a delivery schedule across 2021-22.
Several pieces of military hardware will arrive later than planned in India owing to the Covid19 pandemic, including the Indian Air Force’s new Rafale jets and the Indian Navy’s follow-on P-8Is. Both will likely arrive in July this year.
“The MH-60R offers the lowest risk and best value option because the aircraft is already in full production and globally supportable. The MH-60R provides a vital capability in the Indo-Pacific region and equips the Indian Navy with a tremendous capability that is ready for operations immediately upon delivery. We thank the government of India for its confidence in Sikorsky and look forward to supporting our partners in the Indian armed forces over the next 30 years,” Kane said in a public statement welcoming the contract earlier this month.
In foreign military sales (FMS) purchases, the Indian government signs an agreement with the US Government, which then awards a commercial delivery contract to the vendor, Sikorsky in this case. A separate contract for the weapons package is expected to be signed separately. Livefist reported details of the Indian MH-60R weapons package here.
The MH-60R entered service with the US Navy in 2006, with an intended fleet size of nearly 300 of the type.