Vice Adm. Kenneth Whitesell presents the Material Inspection and Receiving Report for the Indian Navy's first MH-60R to Vice Adm. Ravneet Singh. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Sara Eshleman)

SAN DIEGO - The U.S. and Indian navies celebrated a historic milestone when two MH-60R Seahawk helicopters were inducted into the Indian Naval Fleet during a ceremony at Naval Air Station North Island, July 16.

The ceremony is part of an ongoing initiative that also includes comprehensive training for Indian aircrew and maintainers on operating and sustaining the MH-60R. This bilateral initiative serves to strengthen the U.S. and India’s enduring friendship and enhance our combined anti-submarine and undersea domain capability.

Indian Ambassador to the United States Taranjit Singh Sandhu spoke at the ceremony and stated “The induction of these all-weather multi-role helicopters is an important milestone in our bilateral defense ties.”

During the ceremony, Vice Adm. Ravneet Singh, Indian Navy Deputy Chief of Naval Staff, and Vice Adm. Kenneth Whitesell, Commander, Naval Air Forces, signed the U.S.-India MH-60R commemorative plaque, which all Indian Navy personnel will also sign upon completion of the MH-60R training program.

“For the Indian Navy, it’s really a proud moment,” said Vice Adm. Singh. “The induction of the MH-60 helicopter into the Indian Navy is a symbol of the ever-growing global strategic partnership of our two countries and reinforces the common ideologies of our great nations.”

The primary mission of the MH-60R is surface and subsurface warfare. The helicopter is also capable of search and rescue operations, vertical replenishments, personnel transport, and medical evacuation operations.

“The MH-60R is a cutting-edge multi-mission aircraft that will significantly enhance our navy-to-navy cooperation and strengthen our combined anti-submarine and undersea domain capabilities on the open seas,” said Vice Adm. Whitesell. “As was true for the U.S. Navy, these aircraft and their operators will immediately strengthen their armed forces to deter, counter, and defend against any threat to the international rules-based order that we mutually recognize as critically important to global security.”

Over the coming years, the U.S. Navy will help prepare Indian Navy aviators, sensor operators, and maintainers to operate and maintain the MH-60R. Members of the Indian Navy arrived in the United States last month to begin training on the MH-60R; maintenance personnel are currently studying maintenance requirements and procedures at NAS North Island, while the first Indian Navy MH-60R pilots and sensor operators have completed the Naval Aviation Survival Training Program at NAS Pensacola and begun aircrew training with the “Seahawks” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 41.

Two MH-60R Seahawks Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 41 participate in a formation flyover during the ceremony. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Sara Eshleman)

Vice Adm. Ravneet Singh arrives as a member of the official party during the ceremony. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Sara Eshleman)

Vice Adm. Kenneth Whitesell, left, Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Indian Ambassador to the U.S., center, and Vice Adm. Ravneet Singh, observe customs and courtesies as the Indian and U.S. national anthems are played during the ceremony. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Sara Eshleman)

Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu delivers remarks during the ceremony. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Sara Eshleman)