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MH-60R Seahawk bolsters India's Maritime Security

The commissioning of multi-mission MH-60R Seahawk Helicopter strengthens Indian maritime operation in Indian Ocean Region (IOR)

March 8, 2024 By Manish Kumar Jha Photo(s): By IN_HQSNC / X, PIB, IN_R11Vikrant / X
Indian Navy commissions the maiden MH-60R Squadron INAS 334
Address by Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar at the commissioning ceremony

Building maritime operational strength, the Indian Navy has commissioned the newly inducted MH-60R Seahawk which is a maritime variant of the Blackhawk helicopter. The commissioning took place on March 6 at INS Garuda in Kochi. The multi-mission advanced helicopter adds to the naval modernisation plan and strengthens naval firepower in the Indian Ocean Region(IOR) and beyond.

The MH-60R Seahawk helicopter is built for anti-submarine (ASW) and anti-surface warfare (ASuW). Additionally, the MH-60R adds advanced capabilities in critical missions, especially in special marine operations, Search and Rescue (SAR). Besides, the Seahawk is capable of Utility Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP) and Command and Control (C2) on the battlefield.

Originally, designed and built to US Navy specifications, the helicopter has a proven track record on the battlefield from Afghanistan to Syria. Whether operating from shore or ship, MH-60R operators can prosecute the critical mission.

The Indian Navy commissioned the first squadron of MH-60R Seahawk helicopters, significantly enhancing its anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities

The Seahawks squadron will be commissioned as INAS 334. The helicopters are a part of the 24-aircraft Foreign Military Sales(FMS) contract which is government to government-level acquisition process. India signed the $2.6 billion deal to acquire the MH-60R Seahawk with the US government in February 2020.

MH-60R: Multi-Mission Capability

The most crucial capability of the MH-60R Seahawk helicopter is its ability to operate and conduct missions from destroyers, frigates, cruisers and aircraft carriers. This enables the helicopter to handle numerous contacts in confined spaces and for open-water operations.

These multi-mission helicopters are a crucial part of India's naval modernisation plan, strengthening its firepower in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and beyond

The key element of the Seahawk is the advanced digital sensors which include the multi-mode radar, and electronic support measures system. On top of that, it is loaded with next-generation and upgraded electro-optical/infrared cameras, datalinks, aircraft survivability systems, dipping sonar, and sonobuoys. Another key feature includes the integrated mission system which processes sensor data to build a complete situational picture of the ocean surface and subsea domain.

Commissioning ceremony of the maiden MH-60R Squadron INAS 334 by the Indian Navy

According to a senior naval official, MH-60R offers superior maritime capabilities which are based on the fully Integrated Mission System (IMS) for complete situational awareness and actionable knowledge, enabling target engagement both close-in and over-the-horizon from the host ship.

In terms of generating power, the MH-60R is equipped with two powerful General Electric T700-GE-401C turboshaft engines generating 1,425kW with internal self-sealing fuel tanks that have a capacity of 2,230l.

The Indian Navy actively participated in training and customising the MH-60R to seamlessly integrate with its existing assets, ensuring optimal performance

The induction of the Seahawks will extend the maritime reach and operational capabilities of the Indian Navy. Before the induction, the Seahawk was rigorously tested in Indian Reference Atmosphere (IRA) conditions leading into the Fleet.

What makes the 'Romeo' highly capable are elements of advanced weapons, sensors and an avionics suite. The added weapon systems offer enhanced capabilities to the Indian Navy across the full spectrum of conventional and asymmetric threats.

During the acquisition, the Indian Navy completed its 10-month training on the MH-60R Multi-Role Helicopters (MRH) at the US Naval Air Station, North Island in San Diego. The Indian crew responsible for inducting MH-60R flew extensively from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron – 41 (HSM 41) and achieved day and night deck landing qualification onboard a US Navy Destroyer.

MH-60R Seahawk operating from INS Vikrant

According to the naval expert, the MH-60R helicopter will broaden the scope of India's blue-water capabilities, extending the operational reach of the Navy and supporting sustained naval operations across spectrums and over vast maritime domains. The Indian navy has also been involved in the upgrade of MH-60R as per the requirement and specifications suitable to make it easier to blend into Indian naval assets.

According to the naval spokesperson, the commissioning of the Seahawks underscores the Indian Navy's steadfast dedication to fortifying maritime security, aligning seamlessly with the Indian maritime approach based on the Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).

The newly acquired capability will strengthen and reinforce India's maritime presence, particularly in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). In recent years, Lockheed Martin's MH-60R Seahawk helicopters have seen global take-up as nations strengthen their maritime capabilities. Besides India, Australia, Spain, Norway, and Greece have announced acquisitions recently, signalling a surge in demand for these aircraft.


The author is a defence editor and security expert. He writes on National Security, Military Technology, Strategic Affairs & Policies.