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NEW DELHI: India has finalised two more mega defence deals with the US, together worth over $3.5 billion (Rs 25,000 crore) for 30 heavy-duty armed helicopters, in the run-up to President Donald Trump’s visit here on February 24-25.
These soon-to-be-inked deals will take the total value of Indian defence contracts bagged by the US just since 2007 to well past the $20 billion mark. The $2.6 billion deal for 24 MH-60 ‘Romeo’ multi-mission helicopters for the Navy and the $930 million one for six AH-64E Apache attack choppers for the Army are set to be cleared by the Cabinet committee on security (CCS) by next week, said sources on Wednesday.
“India will pay an initial 15% instalment for the MH- 60R choppers under the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) government-to-government deal. Once the contract is inked, the first lot of choppers will be delivered in two years. All 24 will come in four to five years,” said a source .
The “direct commercial sale” of the six Apaches, in turn, is basically a follow-on order to the 22 such choppers already inducted by IAF under a Rs 13,952 crore deal inked with US in September 2015. “The Army should get the six choppers, armed with Stinger air-to-air missiles, Hellfire Longbow air-to-ground missiles, guns and rockets, around 2022-2023,” said a source.
The MH-60Rs, armed with Hellfire missiles, MK-54 torpedoes and precision-kill rockets, are considered a “critical operational necessity” for the Navy as its warships are virtually bereft of such choppers at a time when Chinese nuclear and diesel-electric submarines are making regular forays into the Indian Ocean Region. The 140-warship force has just about a dozen old Sea King and 10 Kamov-28 anti-submarine warfare choppers operational as of now.
As was first reported by TOI in June last year, the 24 MH-60Rs and six Apache helicopters are part of the several lucrative defence deals worth over $10 billion being lined up for the US by India over the next two-three years.



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