India is getting 24 Sikorsky MH-60R naval multirole helicopters with a complete weapons package. Credit: Wikimedia.

It’s official, India is getting 24 Sikorsky MH-60R naval multirole helicopters, according to a Ministry of Defence official, Defense News reported.

The US$2.12 billion acquisition through the US Foreign Military Sales program, was approved by India’s top defense clearance body, the Cabinet Committee on Security, which is headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the report said.

The clearance comes during a two-day visit to India by US President Donald Trump.

The MoD official said a formal government-to-government contract for the MH-60R helicopters will be signed once cost negotiations are finalized, the report said.

No timeline has been set, but delivery will take place three years after the contract is inked, he added.

A previous attempt to buy naval multirole helos failed when the MoD canceled the planned purchase of 16 S-70B Seahawks from Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin subsidiary, in June 2017 following expiry of the US$1 billion price tag offer, the report said.

The 2009 tender for 16 helos was sent to Sikorsky, NHIndustries, Airbus Helicopters and Russian Helicopters, the report said.

The S-70B was selected over NHIndustries’ NH90 helicopter in 2011; the other potential contenders did not participate, the report said.

The cost of weapons was not included in the original program, but the recently approved deal for 24 MH-60Rs does include a weapons package, according to an Indian Navy official.

The helicopters are to be armed with multi-mode radar, Hellfire missiles, Mark 54 torpedoes and precision-kill rockets.

The Navy plans to use the helicopters for its front-line warships to replace its outdated British Sea King Mark 42 helicopters.

(Editor’s note: Another contract to procure six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters for US$800 million from the US was also sealed on Tuesday.)

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