Indian Navy’s team to induct naval choppers in the US
Sikorsky – Lockheed Martin is expected to deliver at least 3 heavy duty helicopters to the Indian Navy by the end of this year. The Navy will send a team of pilots and technicians to the US to induct these multi mission helicopter, called as MH – 60 ‘Romeo’. This team, which is expected to leave for the US in May – June, will undergo the technical training before induction. These helicopters will help the navy to increase its submarine detecting and destroying capacity. This will prove to be a major capability jump for Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). In February 2020, the Navy signed an agreement with the US based firm to procure 24 MH – 60R helicopters at an estimated amount of $2.13 billion (Rs. 15,157 crores). According to the agreement, all 24 helicopters will be a part of the Indian fleet by the end of 2023. These helicopters are considered to be the perfect replacement of Sea King 42/42A helicopters, which were retired in the last decade of the 20th century.
MH – 60R helicopters, code named as ‘Sea Hawks’ have the capability to be integrated with the Multi-mode Radars, Hellfire missiles, night vision devices, precision kill rockets and MK-54 torpedoes. Indian Navy will operate these modern helicopters from all frontline warships, which also includes indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. Indian Navy currently operates few numbers of Anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters like Sea Kings and Kamov-28s. This ageing fleet is inefficient to tackle the increasing number of Chinese diesel electric and nuclear submarine in the IOR. The ‘Romeo’ helicopters will bridge the critical operational gap of the Navy, which operates 140 warships.
‘Romeo’ helicopters will be the 3rd addition of the US made helicopters in the Indian Armed Forces, the previous ones being Apache attack helicopters and heavy lift Chinook choppers. Both these helicopters were manufactured by Boeing. 22 Apache helicopters and 15 Chinook choppers have been inducted by the Indian Air Force (IAF) till date.
India’s participation in La Perouse exercise
For the first time the Indian Navy is participating in a French naval exercise along with its Quad counterparts the United States, Australia and Japan. The exercise named La Perouse is going on in the eastern Indian Ocean from April 5-7. Various complex and advanced naval operations are included in the exercise such as surface warfare, anti-air warfare, air defence exercises, weapon firing exercises, cross deck flying operations, tactical manoeuvres and seamanship evolutions such as replenishment at sea. India is being represented by Indian Naval Ship (INS) Satpura with embarked integral helicopter and INS Kiltan with P8I long range maritime patrol aircraft. After the Malabar exercise held in November last year, the Quad countries have come again together for one of its kind Naval exercise involving France. Indian Navy will exercise at sea with the French Navy (FN), Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) and the United States Navy (USN). FN Ships Tonnerre an amphibious assault ship and frigate Surcouf is representing French Navy and the US Navy has sent its amphibious transport dock ship Somerset. RAN has deployed Her Majesty’s Australian Ships (HMAS) Anzac, a frigate and tanker Sirius for participation while JMSDF has sent the destroyer Akebono. The exercise will help develop high levels of synergy, inter-operability and coordination between the friendly navies.
CDS’ visit to Karwar Naval Base
Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat paid visit to Karnataka’s Karwar Naval Base where he was briefed about the ongoing works under Project Seabird. He also interacted with the officers and sailors at the station. There is an Indian Navy base located near Karwar known as INS Kadamba. Project Seabird is the first phase of the construction of the base that was completed in 2005. Development of Phase II started in 2011. Currently, it is the third largest naval base and after completion of Phase II will become the largest naval base in the eastern hemisphere. The project would enable maintenance and refit of 10 ships and 10 yard crafts.
Security forces’ synergy enhancing exercise in Ladakh
Indian security forces are planning an exercise in the Ladakh region aimed at enhancing coordination and synergy. Summer deployments have begun in the Ladakh sector on both sides of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The exercise being planned by the Indian Army will also see participation of the paramilitary forces including the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). India and China are embroiled in a stand-off since last May which has continued even after the disengagement at the main contentious site Pangong Tso area. The security forces that are deployed along China border include Indian Army, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the Indian Air Force. The forces are on highest level of alert because of the Chinese transgressions of last year and are leaving no stone unturned in securing the borders.
Private firms will manufacture VL-SRSAM
Defence research and Development Organization (DRDO) has roped in private sector firms to develop and produce missile systems such as Vertical Launched Surface to Air Missile (VL-SRSAM) systems. This will help promote the domestic defence industry in keeping with the spirit of Make in India. DRDO has allowed the private sector to co-develop missile system and produce them under the Development cum Production Partner (DCPP) program. Private sector’s enthusiasm can be gauged with the number of bids being received by the DRDO for the development of VL-SRSAM project. This initiative is a part of the efforts to prepare the private sector industry to develop complex military systems. The all-weather air defence missile system will provide point and area defence against aerial targets like jets, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and fighter aircraft. The canister-based weapon system would identify, track, engage and destroy the target with high kill probability and strike range of about 40 km. the DRDO has helped private sector industries like Tata and Baba Kalyani to develop the ATAGS howitzer which will be the main artillery gun for the Indian Army in future.