Indian Navy commissions MH 60R Seahawk choppers to enhance maritime security

The Indian Navy on Wednesday commissioned the first squadron of its newly-inducted MH 60R Seahawk multi-role choppers that is expected to significantly bolster the force’s surveillance and combat capabilities in the strategic waters.

The INAS 334 ‘Seahawks’ naval air squadron was commissioned at a ceremony at INS Garuda in Kochi in the presence of Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar.

MH-60R helicopter, produced by US defence giant Lockheed Martin Corporation, is an all-weather helicopter designed to support multiple missions with state-of-the-art avionics and sensors.

The chopper is a maritime variant of the Blackhawk helicopter. The helicopter is designed for anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, search and rescue and medical evacuation among other operations.

In his address, the Chief of the Naval Staff described the MH 60R helicopter as one of the potent multi-role helicopters in the world and that the choppers will significantly enhance the country’s maritime capabilities.

“As far as the Indian Navy is concerned, we have an unequivocal commitment to the nation — that of protecting, preserving, promoting and pursuing national interests in the maritime domain,” he said.

“With their cutting-edge sensors and multi-mission capabilities, MH 60Rs will augment our maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare capabilities,” he said.

He commended the officers and men of ‘Seahawks’ for the commissioning of INAS 334, highlighting the swift progress made by the squadron in fully integrating with the fleet.

Admiral Kumar urged the crew of INAS 334 to continue to strive for excellence and be mission ready to keep the nation’s waters safe, secure and stable.

The commission ceremony was marked by a scintillating fly-past by a formation of the Seahawks and the traditional water cannon salute to mark the historic day, Navy spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said in Delhi.

The event was also attended by Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Naval Command Vice Admiral Sanjay J Singh, Deputy Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Tarun Sobti and Director General Naval Operations V Adm A N Pramod among others.

The commissioning of the helicopters in the INAS 334 squadron is expected to significantly enhance the Navy’s operational capability in the Indian Ocean region which has been witnessing increasing Chinese military forays.

India signed an agreement with the US for procurement of 24-MH 60Rs in February 2020 under the framework of foreign military sales.