WASHINGTON • The United States has approved the sale of 24 MH-60R helicopters to India, significantly boosting its emerging ally's firepower to target submarines, as China expands in the Indian Ocean.
In a quick reply to an Indian request submitted late last year, the US State Department said it was informing the US Congress that it was giving the green light for India to buy the helicopters worth a total of US$2.6 billion (S$3.5 billion).
They are designed for hunting submarines, knocking out ships and conducting search-and-rescue operations at sea. They would replenish India's ageing fleet of British-made Sea King helicopters.
"This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the US by helping to strengthen the US-Indian strategic relationship and to improve the security of a major defensive partner," the state department said.
It called India "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".
India, which had estranged relations with the US since the Cold War, has emerged as one of its leading defence partners with the interests of the world's two largest democracies largely overlapping amid their concerns over a rising China and Islamist extremism.