India: INS Vikramaditya again in action after 2.5 years


The Indian Navy will get two MH-60 Romeo anti-submarine warfare helicopters later this month. These Romeo anti-submarines will be deployed on INS Vikramaditya, which has been in action for about two and a half years after a complete refit.

Sources in the defense and the security establishment said the two helicopters will be given to India by the US government during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official visit to the US.

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

While the Navy commissioned the indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant in September last year, it is yet to become operational. It will undergo a ‘guaranteed refit’ for four-five months from the end of this month. During this guarantee period, it will be checked for its machinery like any new ship.

Sources said that it is expected to be operational by the end of this year.

Earlier this week, the Navy demonstrated its capability and might with both INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant with their fleets and announced the end of the exercise. During this, it also included 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’, a launch site for a wide range of aircraft, including MiG-29K fighter jets, MH60R, Kamov, Sea King, Chetak and ALH helicopters provide a platform.

The Navy’s elite fighter pilots have not landed on an aircraft carrier for nearly two years.

INS Vikramaditya after Covid

INS Vikramaditya was originally a Russian carrier Admiral Gorshkov – which was decommissioned in 1996 and later bought by India in 2004. It was commissioned in 2013 after refurbishment.

In early 2021, it was once again sent for “general repairs”, but the process was delayed. Sources said one reason for this was the pandemic. Last year, a fire broke out on board, affecting the carrier’s blowers and fuel pipes, causing further delays.

In 2018 too, this carrier was repaired for five months. Whose cost was more than 700 crore rupees? This was the second refit that the ship underwent since being commissioned in late 2013.

24 Romeos expected by 2025

Meanwhile, sources said preparations have been completed for the delivery of Romeo, a helicopter manufactured by American major Lockheed Martin. And it will be completed by 2025.

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

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

These helicopters are meant to meet an urgent requirement of the Navy – they will play a vital role in anti-submarine operations, for which the force is currently dependent on its P-8I aircraft.

Romeo will replace the Navy’s fleet of older British-built Sea King helicopters, which are now mostly used for anti-submarine warfare transport rather than their actual role.

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