India may finalise a $2 billion naval helicopter deal with the US by this year's end. Indian Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh said negotiations have been proceeding well, and New Delhi is in a position to sign a contract with the US to purchase 24 MH-60 Romeo multi-role choppers.
"In the multi-role helicopter project, the procedure for Letter of Request and Letter of Acceptance is on. We should be able to sign it by the end of this year," Admiral Singh said while speaking on the sidelines of an 'International Seminar on Nation Building through Shipbuilding', in New Delhi.
The MH-60R is equipped with Raytheon's MK-54 torpedoes, Lockheed Martin's Hellfire missiles, Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) and its rockets, night fighting systems, sophisticated radars and secure communication devices.
The negotiations between the two countries started in May this year after the US officially sent India the Letter of Acceptance for the maritime helicopters.
The US Defence Security Cooperation Agency, in April this year, had responded to India's August 2018 requisition and delivered the required certification notifying Congress of the possible foreign military sale of these multi-purpose helicopters for an estimated cost of $2.6 billion.
These 24 naval helicopters are designed to replace the Sea King helicopters that have been in the service of the Indian Navy for over 30 years.
The Indian government had earlier scrapped a 2014 deal with Sikorsky over pricing issues. Due to the dire need of such helicopters for its warships, the Indian government decided to go ahead with Sikorsky for the S-70B helicopters regardless of a single-vendor preference and contrary to India's defence procurement policy.
The Indian Navy expects these helicopters will be equipped with multi-mode radar, airborne low-frequency systems, multi-spectral targeting systems, hellfire missiles, captive air training missiles, advanced precision kill weapons, system rockets, MK 54 torpedoes, and naval strike missile emulators.