Govt approves USD 2.6 billion naval helicopter deal with US ahead of Trump’s visit


PTI, Feb 20, 2020, 10:24 AM IST

New Delhi: Ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit here next week, the Cabinet Committee on Security on Wednesday approved a government-to-government deal to procure a batch of 24 MH-60 Romeo helicopters from the US at a cost of USD 2.6 billion.

The bilateral agreement to seal the deal is expected to be signed after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s talks with US President Donald Trump on February 25, top sources said. India is procuring the helicopters for the Indian Navy.

The sources said the Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi also deliberated on the procurement of a missile defence system from the US at a cost of USD 1.86 billion.

However, final approval to the deal has not been given yet, the sources said.

The US approved the sale of the helicopters to India in April last year. The helicopters are expected to boost the Indian Navy’s anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare operations.

The chopper is designed to hunt down submarines. The fleet would replace ageing British-made Sea King helicopters.

Ahead of Trump’s visit, the US approved the sale of an Integrated Air Defence Weapon System to India (IADWS).

Defence and security ties between India and the US have been on an upswing in the last six years. The bilateral defence trade touched USD 18 billion marks in 2019, reflecting growing defence cooperation between the two sides.

There has been an indication that two sides may announce the further deepening of defence ties during Trump’s visit on February 24 and 25.

Both sides have also been pushing for joint venture and collaboration between private sectors of the two countries in defence manufacturing.

In June 2016, the US had designated India a “Major Defence Partner”, intending to elevate defence trade and technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners.

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