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INS Vikramaditya back in action after 2.5 yrs, Indian Navy to get 2 more Romeo helicopters to deploy on board

Source : The Print

INS Vikramaditya back in action after 2.5 yrs, Indian Navy to get 2 more Romeo helicopters to deploy on board
Indian Navy Aircraft Carrier INS Vikramaditya

INS Vikramaditya back in action after 2.5 yrs, Indian Navy to get 2 more Romeo helicopters to deploy on board

New Delhi: The Indian Navy will later this month receive two MH-60 Romeo anti-submarine warfare helicopters, which will be deployed on board the INS Vikramaditya that has been operationalised after an exhaustive refit lasting nearly two and half years, ThePrint has learnt.

Sources in the defence and security establishment said that the two helicopters will be delivered to India by the US government around the time Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be on an official visit to the country.

With the two, the Navy will have a total of five of these state-of-the-art helicopters, which will be deployed on the INS Vikramaditya, India’s only operational aircraft carrier.

While the Navy commissioned indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant in September last year, it is not yet operational and is set undergo four-five months of ‘guarantee refit’ later this month. Under this, the ship and its machinery will be examined like any new vessel under a guarantee period. 

The carrier is slated to be operationalised by the end of this year, sources said.

The Navy had over the weekend announced the culmination of an exercise that showcased its capability and power to operate two aircraft carriers, with both INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant sailing together with their fleets. This involved the coordinated deployment of more than 35 aircraft in the Arabian Sea.

INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant, the centrepieces of the exercise, serve as ‘floating sovereign airfields’, providing a launch platform for a wide array of aircraft, including MiG-29K fighter jets, MH60R, Kamov, Sea King, Chetak and ALH helicopters.

ThePrint in November last year reported that the elite fighter pilots of the Navy have not landed on an aircraft carrier for nearly two years.

INS Vikramaditya, after Covid, a fire & 2 refits 

The INS Vikramaditya was originally a Russian carrier — Admiral Gorshkov — that was decommissioned in 1996 and later bought by India in 2004. It was commissioned in 2013 after refurbishing.

Early 2021, it went in for a “normal refit”, but the process got delayed. One of the reasons was the pandemic, sources said. A fire that broke out on board last year, which affected the carrier’s blowers and fuel pipes, delayed it further.

The carrier had last undergone a five-month refit in 2018, which cost over Rs 700 crore. It was the second refit the vessel went through since it was commissioned in late 2013.

24 Romeos expected by 2025

Meanwhile, sources said that the delivery of the Romeos, the helicopters manufactured by US major Lockheed Martin, is on track and will be completed by 2025.

India had ordered 24 of these helicopters from the US government in 2020. The Navy has received three of them so far.

The helicopters have been modified with equipment and weapons according to India’s requirements, including Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and Mark 54 anti-submarine torpedoes.

These helicopters are meant to meet an immediate requirement of the Navy — they will play a key role in anti-submarine operations, for which the force currently relies on its P-8I aircraft.

The Romeos will replace the Navy’s fleet of ageing British-built Sea King helicopters, which are now mostly used for transport rather than their actual role — anti-submarine warfare. INS Vikramaditya back in action after 2.5 yrs, Indian Navy to get 2 more Romeo helicopters to deploy on board INS Vikramaditya back in action after 2.5 yrs, Indian Navy to get 2 more Romeo helicopters to deploy on board INS Vikramaditya back in action after 2.5 yrs, Indian Navy to get 2 more Romeo helicopters to deploy on board INS Vikramaditya back in action after 2.5 yrs, Indian Navy to get 2 more Romeo helicopters to deploy on board INS Vikramaditya back in action after 2.5 yrs, Indian Navy to get 2 more Romeo helicopters to deploy on board INS Vikramaditya back in action after 2.5 yrs, Indian Navy to get 2 more Romeo helicopters to deploy on board IgMp

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