The US Navy has formally handed over the first batch of two MH-60R multi role helicopters (MRH) to the Indian Navy at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego.

A ceremony was held to mark the aircraft transfer. Indian Ambassador to the USA Taranjit Singh Sandhu accepted the delivery.

The event also saw the exchange of helicopter documents between officials of both naval forces.

India will procure a total of 24 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters from the US Government via a foreign military sales programme.

The $2.12bn deal for the purchase of the aircraft was signed between India and the US in February last year.

Sikorsky Aircraft, a Lockheed Martin company, is under contract to manufacture the MH-60R MRHs for the Indian Navy.

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The first six units are expected to be delivered this year.

The all-weather MH-60R model will replace the Sea King helicopters. The Indian Navy also operates Kamov helicopters.

The Indian Ministry of Defence in a statement said: “The induction of these MRH would further enhance Indian Navy’s three-dimensional capabilities. In order to exploit these potent helicopters, the first batch of Indian crew is presently undergoing training in USA.”

The aircraft, which are already equipped with advanced avionics/sensors to support multiple missions, will also feature several ‘India unique equipment and weapons’.

In April, the US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) announced the maiden flight of the first Indian MH-60R production helicopter at Lockheed Martin’s Rotary and Mission Systems (RMS) plant.