- Lockheed Martin a partner of choice for Atmanirbhar Bharat and Make in India
New Delhi. 02 December 2020. “India’s selection of the MH-60R “Romeo” multi-mission helicopter provides the Indian Navy (IN) with the most advanced anti-surface/anti-submarine warfare helicopter in operation today. 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,” reiterated Tom Kane, Director, Sikorsky Naval Helicopter Programs in an exclusive interview with Aviation & Defence Universe (ADU).
ADU. What are the timelines for the delivery of the first batch of MH-60R helicopters to India?
TK. The delivery of the first batch of MH-60R helicopters to the Indian Navy is likely to commence by Spring 2021. We stand committed to supporting the Indian Navy to realize its modernization vision.
ADU. What are your thoughts on the most recent MH-60R signing for India?
TK. The MH-60R is the latest thread in the stories of Lockheed Martin and U.S.-India partnerships. In fact, it is the largest contract Lockheed Martin has ever signed with India.
For India specifically, here is why the MH-60R is such a good fit:
• The MH-60R offers the lowest risk and best value option because it has an active production line and is globally supportable
• The MH-60R will bring a substantial and important increase in maritime security in the region in coalition with other MH-60R aircraft operating in the Indo-Pacific region. Additionally, the aircraft equips the Indian Navy with immediate multi-mission capability and effectiveness
• For example, the MH-60R brings unrivaled Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) benefits which include nearly 1.5 times on mission endurance time, larger search areas and greater threat detection capabilities in comparison to other ASW aircraft
• Its versatility enables it to do a huge variety of missions, and its integrated systems create a picture of complete situational awareness and actionable knowledge for the pilots
• The MH-60R brings a mature sustainment program, by leveraging the current USN PBL.
• The IN will also benefit from the ongoing support provided for more than 300 MH-60Rs in operation around the world today, including a low-cost path to participate in future upgrades as the undersea threat continues to grow
• MH-60R is gaining momentum across the globe, with India being the 5th country after U.S., Australia, Denmark, and Saudi Arabia to select the helicopter for its maritime defense needs
• Recently, the government of Greece also signed a deal with United States government to acquire four MH-60R helicopters for the Hellenic Navy
• The Indian Navy MH-60Rs will join a group of more than 300 MH-60Rs operating in the world today
• Current customers are now the U.S., Australia, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, India & Greece
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.
ADU. Does the India MH-60R have any special features on it or how does it differ from other aircraft?
TK. While we can’t get into specifics of individual configurations, I can tell you the intent is these helicopters will be able to talk with India’s spacecraft, as well as other aircraft in their fleet. Of course, the helicopters will also have all the hallmark qualities of MH-60. As the world’s most advanced maritime security helicopter, the MH-60R has unmatched multi-mission capabilities: Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) / Anti-Surface (ASuW); Special Operations / Search & Rescue (SAR); Utility /Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP); and Command and Control (C2). The aircraft’s fully integrated mission system also builds complete situational awareness and actionable knowledge, enabling target engagement both close-in and over-the-horizon. The helicopter also has unrivaled Anti-Submarine Warfare benefits that includes nearly 1.5 times longer mission endurance time, larger search areas and greater threat detection capabilities. Along with higher availability rates, ease of maintenance activities and extremely less expensive operating costs, the MH-60R brings advanced and immediate advantages to the Indian Navy.
ADU. What do other current MH-60 customers around the world use it for?
TK. The MH-60R is currently operational with four navies in the world, i.e. U.S. Navy, Royal Australian Navy, Royal Danish Navy, and Royal Saudi Navy. Its versatility enables it to do a huge variety of missions, and its integrated systems create a picture of complete situational awareness and actionable knowledge for the pilots.
- The U.S. Navy was the first to adopt the helicopter in 2006.
- Since then, the Navy’s fleet has grown to 289 MH-60Rs that complete missions like search for enemy submarines, conduct daring at-sea rescues and engage undersea threats.
- The Seahawk’s sustainment has been so successful that recently the Secretary of Defense awarded the Lockheed Martin team with its Performance Based Logistics (PBL) award, recognizing “outstanding creativity and innovation, resulting in superb combat readiness and superlative cost-wise performance to the fleet.”
- Australia received its first MH-60R in 2013, and since then it’s expanded to 24 helicopters.
- Primarily, MH-60R serves as its next-generation submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopter.
- The Royal Australian Navy has even been able to integrate the MH-60R with more types of vessels than it had originally planned for.
- Denmark became the third country to operate the MH-60R after Australia, receiving its first aircraft of nine in 2016.
- In the rugged North Sea, the helicopter has proved it can land even in the most precarious of places.
- Recently, MH-60R also showed off its ability to be aerially refueled from a ship and has supported anti-piracy operations for NATO.
- Prior to India, Saudi Arabia was the latest nation to join the MH-60R family.
- With its first delivery in 2018, the Royal Saudi Navy will receive 10 MH-60R helicopters in total.
- Primarily, MH-60Rs in Saudi Arabia will operate in conjunction with the country’s next-generation Multi-Mission Surface Combatant (MMSC) ships, also built by Lockheed Martin.
Most recent update – Greece
- Post India, Greece is the latest nation to join the MH-60R family.
- Recently signed $193 million contract, Greece becomes the sixth country.
ADU. How is Lockheed Martin discharging its offset obligations for the MH-60R acquired by the Indian Navy?
TK. Lockheed Martin has been diligently discharging its offset obligations in India since 2009. This has delivered extensive economic benefits through investment, skills training, transfer of technology and exports. Our successful joint ventures in India have been a key part of helping India achieve its goal of developing an aerospace and defense supplier ecosystem, promote indigenous manufacturing and participating in the global supply chain.
Through the India MH-60R program, Lockheed Martin is excited to work with Indian companies to further develop long-term potential business relationships. Doing so will provide benefits for all parties which may persist well beyond after the initial industrial commitment is fulfilled. As evidenced during this summer’s virtual India Suppliers Conference 2020, Lockheed Martin met with companies from across India in an effort to learn more about India’s defense industrial capabilities and to seek opportunities for Indian companies to participate in Lockheed Martin’s global supply chains. This event was a critical first step to identify potential long-lasting business relationships and resulted in follow-on engagements between Lockheed Martin and certain Indian companies.
Lockheed Martin looks forward to working ever-closely with Indian customers and industry, via the Government of India’s Self-Reliant India/ Atmanirbhar Bharat and Make in India/ Investment in Manufacturing initiatives, to become the partner of choice for both.
ADU. Has COVID-19 affected the MH-60R contract specifically?
TK. Thus far, COVID-19 has had no impact on the MH-60R India contract except for the general inability to meet face-to-face with our various program stakeholders. We’ve been utilizing virtual meetings in lieu of in person ones.