India gears up for chopper deal
Ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit to India this month, India is set to give final approval to a US$ 2.6 billion deal for military helicopters from U.S. defence firm Lockheed Martin. According to a source from the defence ministry, the union cabinet committee on security is expected to clear the purchase of 24 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters for the Indian navy in the next two weeks.
Ever since India pivoted away from traditional defence supplier Russia in 2007, India’s defence purchases from the United States have reached US$ 17 billion. Under this government to government deal, the helicopters that will be deployed on India’s warships will be bought through the U.S. foreign military sales route.
Some of the other measures aimed at enhancing the strategic ties between the two countries include India’s willingness to buy from US surveillance planes, Apache and Chinook helicopters. Further, the U.S. State Department has also said that it had approved an Indian request for an Integrated Air Defense Weapon System for an estimated cost of US$ 1.87 billion. Also, US has offered India the armed version of Guardian drones, the first such approval for a country outside the NATO alliance.