State Dept. OKs weapons sale to India as tensions with Pakistan increase

State Dept. OKs weapons sale to India as tensions with Pakistan increase

Sailors send a fuel sample to an MH-60R Seahawk -- similar to ones approved for sale to India -- prior to a helicopter in-flight refueling exercise in the Baltic Sea on Feb. 27. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mark Andrew Hays/U.S. Navy)

WASHINGTON — The State Department has authorized the sale of 24 MH-60R Multi-Mission helicopters to India, just as tension continues to rise between that nation and Pakistan.

Sale price: $2.6 billion. Next step is congressional approval.

“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 Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement to Pentagon reporters. “India will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense.”

The DSCA noted that the proposed sale and support “will not alter the basic military balance in the region.” It also said the sale will not have any “adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness.”

India requested the equipment last August.

The approval comes in the context of escalating tension between India and Pakistan.

On Wednesday, Indian military officials said there was an air intrusion by Pakistan jets in Kashmir, the disputed territory claimed by both nations, according to news reports. Indian planes were scrambled and the Pakistani jets turned back, according to news reports.

It is the latest incident since a Feb. 14 terrorist attack that killed 40 Indian military personnel, a strike claimed by the Jaish-e-Mohammed group terrorist group.

However, New Delhi blamed Islamabad and sent jets into Pakistan to strike terrorist camps. During that operation, a Pakistani plane downed one of India’s jets; the Indian pilot was later returned to India and tensions have remained high.

Along with the helicopters, the sale also would include 30 APS-153(V) Multi-Mode radars, 60 T700-GE-401C engines, 24 Airborne Low Frequency System (ALFS), 1000 AN/SSQ-36/53/62 sonobuoys; 10 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles; 38 Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System (APKWS) rockets; 70 AN/AVS-9 Night Vision Devices and an assortment of radars and other parts, the DSCA statement said.

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