Washington: India has sought from the US 24 multi-role MH-60 ‘Romeo’ anti-submarine helicopters for its Navy at an estimated cost of $2 billion, according to defence industry sources.

The deal is likely to be finalised in a few months. US vice-president Mike Pence met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Singapore on the sidelines of a regional summit recently.

India had sent a letter of request to the US for an “urgent requirement” of 24 multi-role helicopters – MH 60 Romeo Seahawk, sources said. In recent months, there has been acceleration in defence ties between the two countries, with the Trump administration opening up America’s high-tech military hardware for India’s defence needs.

Bilateral defence relationship was on top of the agenda of Modi‘s meeting with Pence in Singapore on Wednesday. The meeting is likely to be followed by a summit-level bilateral between Prime Minister Modi and US President Donald Trump in Argentina on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting on November 30 and December 1. Neither side has confirmed the meeting yet.

According to sources, the MH-60 Romeo deal is likely to have an offset requirement. Sources indicated that India planned to follow up this urgent requirement with a long-term plan to manufacture 123 of these helicopters in India.

Currently deployed with the US Navy, Lockheed Martin’s MH-60R Seahawk helicopter is considered the world’s most advanced maritime helicopter.

The Sikorsky SH-60/MH-60 Seahawk, which was first included in the US Navy in 1970s,  is a twin turboshaft engine, multi-mission United States Navy helicopter based on the United States Army UH-60 Black Hawk and a member of the Sikorsky S-70 family. 

Besides the US, Spain, Denmark, Australia, Republic of Korea, Qatar, Singapore, Israel, Malaysia have ordered and have been using the helicopters.

Over the years, Lockheed has emerged as a major American supplier of state-of-the-art defence military equipment. “With this Seahawk deal, the overall US-India defence trade will surpass $20 billion,” an industry source said. “The pipeline of opportunities for US defence firms can result in another $5 billion of sales in the next few years.”