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Indian Navy to bolster anti-submarine warfare capabilities with MH 60R helicopter induction

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KOCHI, Feb 29: The coast of Kochi is all set to witness the pinnacle of airborne supremacy of the Indian Navy next week when it inducts the aerial marvel, the MH 60R helicopter into its fleet, bolstering the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capabilities.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will commission the newly inducted MH 60R Seahawk multi-role helicopter at the INS Garuda here on March 6, Navy officials said.

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The squadron will be commissioned in the Indian Navy as INAS 334, under the Command of Captain M Abhisheik Ram.

The Indian government signed a deal with the United States of America in February 2020, to acquire 24 fourth-generation MH 60R helicopters. Six of them have been delivered to the Indian Navy so far.

Speaking to PTI, Ram said the induction of these helicopters into the Indian Navy will bring about a significant surge in its maritime prowess and capabilities.

Detailing the capabilities of the new chopper, he said that apart from the ASW, it is designed for anti-surface warfare, search and rescue operations during the day and night, medical evacuation and vertical replenishment, among others.

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“With this MH 60R, we have filled a major gap in our anti-submarine warfare capability. The anti-submarine capability and the sustenance of the chopper will change the way we are doing our surveillance and it will give us a larger surveillance bubble,” Ram said.

He added that the newly inducted choppers have been integrated with almost all the ships under the Indian Navy and ready for operational deployments.

The MH 60R is also capable of firing torpedoes, missiles and advanced precision kill weapon system rockets.

The self-protection suite on the helicopter comprises Chaff and Infrared Flares, which can be deployed automatically upon detection of a threat, Lieutenant Commandant Aneesh Ayarotil, one of the trained pilots of MH 60R said.

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This is the only chopper in the Indian Navy with a self-defence capability from incoming gunfire or missiles.

“We can deploy flares against the incoming heat-seeking missiles, while chaffs that contain high radar-reflecting materials can be deployed to confuse the radar-homing missiles,” Ayarotil told PTI.

Ayarotil, who was earlier a Chetak pilot, said the MH 60R is one of the most advanced choppers and the systems are pilot-friendly.

“We can engage autopilot to hover and reduce the workload of the pilots,” he added.

The first five batches of pilots and observers, who handle the detection and weapon systems and make the necessary tactical and navigational decisions, were trained in the US.

Ram said the rest of the training was held at INS Garuda in Kochi where a simulator is also coming up.

“This training here is more realistic because when you embark on an Indian ship, we are giving them a realistic sense of tactics. Because most of the training in the US was on the simulator and they do not let us expose ourselves much. Here we are actually doing exercises with submarines, ships, aircraft so the training becomes realistic,” he said.

The new chopper can be used for rescue operations, especially in night search and rescue missions, as it has night vision goggles and forward-looking infrared facilities.

The choppers have been integrated with the INS Vikrant and the Navy considers it as a milestone.

The advanced weapons, sensors and the avionics suite onboard have been tested rigorously for the past eight to nine months.

The chopper can also exchange information in real time through advanced data link systems with Indian as well as platforms from friendly foreign countries making it completely interoperable.

Currently, all six delivered Seahawks are in Kochi. It has also participated in the recently held multinational MILAN exercise on the eastern seaboard of India. (PTI)




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