Bolstering ASW Capabilities: Indian Navy to Induct MH 60R Helicopter to its Fleet Next Week

Indian Navy

Kochi / New Delhi: The Indian Navy will induct the MH 60R helicopter into its fleet next week in Kochi. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will commission the newly inducted MH 60R Seahawk multi-role helicopter at the INS Garuda here on March 6, according to Navy officials.

Six MH 60R helicopters been delivered to the Indian Navy so far. The Indian government signed a deal with the United States of America in February 2020, to acquire 24 fourth-generation MH 60R helicopters.

The squadron under the Command of Captain M Abhisheik Ram will be commissioned in the Indian Navy as INAS 334. The induction of these helicopters into the Indian Navy will bring about a significant surge in its maritime prowess and capabilities, said Captain Ram speaking to a news agency. He said that the helicopter apart from anti-submarine warfare is designed for anti-surface warfare, search and rescue operations during the day and night, medical evacuation and vertical replenishment, among others.

He said, “With this MH 60R, we have filled a major gap in our anti-submarine warfare capability. The anti-submarine capability and the sustenance of the chopper will change the way we are doing our surveillance and it will give us a larger surveillance bubble.” Adding, that the newly inducted choppers have been integrated with almost all the ships under the Indian Navy and ready for operational deployments. The MH 60R is also capable of firing torpedoes, missiles and advanced precision kill weapon system rockets.

Lieutenant Commandant Aneesh Ayarotil, one of the trained pilots of MH 60R said that the self-protection suite on the helicopter comprises Chaff and Infrared Flares, which can be deployed automatically upon detection of a threat, This is the only chopper in the Indian Navy with a self-defence capability from incoming gunfire or missiles. “We can deploy flares against the incoming heat-seeking missiles, while chaffs that contain high radar-reflecting materials can be deployed to confuse the radar-homing missiles,” Ayarotil told the news agency.

He said the MH 60R is one of the most advanced choppers and the systems are pilot-friendly. “We can engage autopilot to hover and reduce the workload of the pilots,” he added.

The first five batches of pilots and observers were trained in the US. They handle the detection and weapon systems and make the necessary tactical and navigational decisions. Captain Ram said the rest of the training was held at INS Garuda in Kochi where a simulator is also coming up.

Captain Ram said, “This training here is more realistic because when you embark on an Indian ship, we are giving them a realistic sense of tactics. Because most of the training in the US was on the simulator and they do not let us expose ourselves much. Here we are actually doing exercises with submarines, ships, aircraft so the training becomes realistic.”

The Indian Navy considers integration of choppers with the INS Vikrant as a milestone. The new chopper can be used for rescue operations, especially in night search and rescue missions, as it has night vision goggles and forward-looking infrared facilities. The advanced weapons, sensors and the avionics suite onboard have been tested rigorously for the past eight to nine months. The chopper can also exchange information in real time through advanced data link systems with Indian as well as platforms from friendly foreign countries making it completely interoperable. The MH 60R Seahawks also participated in the recently held multinational MILAN exercise on the eastern seaboard of India.