April 3 (UPI) -- The U.S. government has approved the possible sale of 24 MH-60R multi-mission helicopters to India for an estimated cost of $2.6 billion.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress that the State Department has approved the proposed sale, the Department of Defense announced Tuesday. Congress is not required to approve or disapprove the potential sale but it will moves forward if Congress takes no action during a 30-day waiting period.
Lockheed Martin's Rotary and Mission Systems Unit in Owego, N.Y., is the principal contractor.
The Sikorsky Seahawk helicopter, known as the Romeo, is the "world's most advanced maritime helicopter," Lockheed Martin said on its website. "It is the most capable naval helicopter available today designed to operate from frigates, destroyers, cruisers and aircraft carriers."
More than 300 of the helicopters are in operation, including with the U.S. Navy, Royal Danish Navy, Royal Australian Navy and Royal Saudi Naval forces.
The sale will include 54 embedded global positioning system/inertial navigation systems with selective availability/anti-spoofing Module, 30 multi-mode radars, 60 engines, 24 airborne low frequency systems, 30 multi-spectral targeting systems.
Weapons will include 24 crew-served guns, two naval strike missile emulators, four naval strike missile captive inert training missiles, 10 Hellfire missiles, 38 advanced precision kill weapons system rockets and 30 MK 54 torpedoes.
One MH-60B/R excess defense article USN legacy aircraft is also included in the sale.
And the United States will provide night vision devices, high-frequency radios and identification friend or foe transponders as part of the deal.
India will receive personnel training and training equipment, as well as support for engineering, technical and logistics support services.
The announcement comes amid increased tensions between India and neighboring Pakistan.
On Monday, India scrambled fighters after radars detected a Pakistani drone near the international border in the Khemkaran sector of Punjab. Pakistan scrambled its jets in response but there was no airspace violation by either side, the Times of India reported.
In March, Indian authorities said Pakistan has violated a cease-fire agreement with India by shelling the disputed regions of Jammu and Kashmir. And India claimed that Pakistan used an F-16 fighter jet to down an Indian jet.
"This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the U.S.-Indian strategic relationship and to improve the security of a major defensive partner which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region," the DFCA said in a news release.
"The proposed sale will provide India the capability to perform anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare missions along with the ability to perform secondary missions including vertical replenishment, search and rescue, and communications relay."
The release notes the sale will serve as deterrent to regional threats and strengthen its homeland defense, but they won't alter the basic military balance in the region.
The new helicopters will replace the Westland Sea King Mk 42B/C and Kamov Ka-28 helicopters in 2020, according to Jane's 360.