CCS approves $2.6 billion helicopter deal with USA

Ahead of Trump's visit, CCS gives approval to $2.6 billion helicopter deal with USA

AFP file photo of an MH-60 helicopter

Ahead of US President Donald Trump's visit to India, the Cabinet Committee on Security on Wednesday cleared the acquisition of 24 MH-60 Romeo multi-mission helicopters worth around $ 2.6 billion for the Indian Navy from the US in a government-to-government contract.

This would be the first defence deal to be signed between India and USA after New Delhi in 2018 inked the contentious Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) allowing sale of sophisticated military-grade electronic and communication equipment to the armed forces.

In the absence of COMCASA or similar pacts, India didn't get many systems, software, encryption and electronics when P8I long range surveillance aircraft were purchased for the Indian Navy.

While the BJP-led NDA government released the information through selective media leak, the Defence Ministry spokesperson said he had no information on the outcome of the CCS.

But in its April 2019 notification to US Congress on the proposed deal, the Pentagon had stated, “The proposed sale will provide India the capability to perform anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare missions along with the ability to perform secondary missions including vertical replenishment, search and rescue, and communications relay. India will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense. India will have no difficulty absorbing these helicopters into its armed forces.”

Armed with Hellfire air-to-ground missiles and MK-54 torpedoes, the naval helicopters will have AN/ARC-210 RT-1990A(C) radios, AN/ARC-220 High Frequency radios and AN/APX-123 Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) transponders – all made possible by COMCASA.

Indian Navy is currently woefully short of helicopters as its entire fleet survives on old Sea King and Kamov helicopters.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox