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Twin boost for Navy in one day — indigenous Vikrant delivered & 2 MH-60 Romeos fly in from US 

The two MH-60 Romeo helicopters are among 24 to be delivered to India by 2025. They will be operating from aircraft carriers Vikrant & Vikramaditya, besides other surface vessels.

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New Delhi: The Indian Navy got a mega boost Thursday — not only was India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, Vikrant, delivered to the force, two MH-60 Romeo anti-submarine warfare helicopters arrived from the US as well.

The helicopters are among 24 MH-60 Romeos to be delivered to India by 2025. They will be operating from aircraft carriers Vikrant as well as Vikramaditya, besides other surface vessels.

The two helicopters landed at the Cochin International Airport on board a C-17 of the US Air Force.

A third would be delivered next month. These three are different from the three delivered to the Indian Navy last year, which are being used for training.

Meanwhile, the delivery of Vikrant marks an important milestone for India — the country now joins a select few countries, including the US and China, that have the capacity of building aircraft carriers. 

Built with a 76 per cent indigenisation component, Vikrant will be commissioned as INS Vikrant next month, when the country celebrates 75 years of Independence. 

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INS Vikrant 

The aircraft carrier is 262 metres long and has a full displacement of 45,000 tonnes. 

Powered by gas turbines with a total capacity of 88 mega watts, the aircraft carrier has a top speed of 28 knots. 

The delivery of Vikrant marks a major milestone for India | Credit: Indian Navy
The delivery of Vikrant marks a major milestone for India | Credit: Indian Navy

Vikrant, which cost approximately Rs 20,000 crore, has been built through three phases of cooperation between the Ministry of Defence and the Cochin Shipyard. The first phase had been completed by 2007, the second in December 2014, and the last in October 2019. 

The Vikrant will be capable of operating an air wing consisting of 30 aircraft. These can include MIG-29K fighter jets, the Kamov-31, and MH-60R, in addition to indigenously manufactured Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) and Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) (Navy), said the Indian Navy.

MH-60 Romeo

Known as the Romeo, the helicopter is manufactured by US major Lockheed Martin, and is an all-weather vehicle designed to support multiple missions.

India had ordered 24 of these helicopters under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) from the US government in 2020.

The helicopters have been modified with several equipment and weapons unique to India, including Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and Mark 54 anti-submarine torpedoes.

These helicopters are meant to meet the immediate requirement of the Navy, which currently relies on its P-8I aircraft for anti-submarine operations amid China’s increasing forays into the waters around India.

They will replace its fleet of the ageing British-built Sea King helicopters, which is now mostly used for transport rather than its actual role — anti-submarine warfare.

The Romeo choppers also have anti-surface-warfare capabilities, which means they will be capable of detecting surface threats and taking action against enemy ships too.

Besides tracking submarines and engaging them, these choppers are capable of performing other maritime roles such as search and rescue, logistics support, personnel transport, medical evacuation, and surveillance. 

(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)

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