NEW DELHI, India - In a bid to boost its Naval defences, India has decided to buy 24 anti-submarine choppers from the U.S., worth an estimated $2 billion.
According to defence industry sources in Washington, Indian officials have sent a letter to the U.S. citing an "urgent requirement" of 24 multi-role helicopters – MH 60 Romeo Seahawk.
India has sought to acquire the MH-60 Romeo Seahawks for years, in a bid to equip its Navy with lethal capabilities to fend off China's growing aggressive tactics in the Indian Ocean region.
The multi-role Romeo chopper is currently deployed with the U.S. Navy as the primary anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface weapon system for open ocean and littoral zones.
Considered the world's most advanced maritime helicopter, the MH-60R Seahawk helicopter by Lockheed Martin is designed to operate from frigates, destroyers, cruisers and aircraft carriers.
The U.S. Naval Air System Command claims that MH-60R Seahawk missions are anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, surveillance, communications relay, combat search and rescue, naval gunfire support and logistics support.
The reported request by India, which has had a requirement for the formidable anti-submarine hunter helicopters for more than a decade now, came days after the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met the Indian Prime Minister on the sidelines of a regional summit in Singapore.
Sources further revealed that India is expecting the deal to be finalized over the next few months.
India's request also comes at a time when the U.S. President Donald Trump's administration is enhancing its defence ties with the country, and across southeast Asia, in a bid to challenge China's growing economic and military clout in the region.
Further, the U.S. President has also opened up America's high-tech military hardware for India's defence needs.
In a further sign that the U.S. is expanding its role in the region, the U.S. Vice President prioritized talks on bilateral defence relationship, when he met the Indian Prime Minister earlier this week.
According to reports, Modi is likely to hold a summit-level bilateral meeting with the Trump later this month, on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Argentina.
According to reports, if the deal goes through, the overall U.S.-India defence trade will surpass $20 billion.