What is the trend in Indian arms import? Which countries are the main weapons suppliers of India? What is the need for India’s increased arms purchases? Read further to know.
According to the latest Stockholm International Peace Research Institute research(SIPRI), despite an 11% decline in its military imports between 2013-17 and 2018-22, India remained the world’s largest arms importer from 2018 to 2022, followed by Saudi Arabia.
An increase in Indian arms import is a matter of concern as the country is attempting to boost domestic defence manufacturing based on, atmanirbharta.
According to data released in March 2023, Russia was India’s largest arms supplier between 2013-17 and 2018-22, but its share of arms imports to India declined from 64% to 45%, while France emerged as the second-largest arms supplier to India between 2018-22 at 29%, followed by the US at 11%.
Global Arms Transfer
- While international arms transfers declined by 5.1% globally, purchases of significant arms by European governments grew by 47% between 2013-17 and 2018-22, owing to the conflict in Ukraine.
- The United States raised its share of global armament exports from 33% to 40%, while Russia decreased its part from 22% to 16%.
- Pakistan’s arms imports climbed by 14% between 2013-17 and 2018-22, accounting for 3.7% of the global total, with China accounting for 77% of Pakistan’s arms imports in 2018-22.
India’s Arms Import Outlook
With a 11% share of total global arms imports in 2018-22, India has become the world’s largest importer of significant weaponry. Despite a 11% decline in weaponry imports between 2013-17 and 2018-22, India remained the leading importer.
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Stockholm International Peace Research Institute research
- The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) is an independent international think tank committed to conflict, armaments, arms control, and disarmament research.
- It was founded in Stockholm in 1966. (Sweden).
- It provides policymakers, scholars, the media, and the general public with data, analysis, and recommendations based on open sources.
India’s Weapons Suppliers
- Russia was India’s major arms supplier during 2013-17 and 2018-22, although its share of arms imports to India declined from 64% to 45%, while France emerged as the second-largest arms provider to India between 2018-22, with 29%, followed by the US at 11%.
- Russia’s status as India’s primary arms supplier is under threat due to rising Indian arms production and, beginning in 2022, restrictions on Russia’s military exports connected to its invasion of Ukraine.
- Over this five-year period, India also imported arms from Israel, South Korea, and South Africa, which are among the world’s top arms exporters.
Indian imports from Russia
According to the SIPRI analysis, Russia remains India’s largest weapons supplier, but it now confronts significant competition from other nations, which are also resorting to India to dump their guns, even as their restrictions on Moscow’s weapons shipments have arisen as a result of the Russia-Ukraine war.
Also read: India’s Defence Exports
Issues with China and Pakistan
The growing acrimony along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and across the Line of Control (LoC) has increased India’s need for armaments. Pakistan’s weapons imports increased by roughly 14% between 2013-2017 and 2018-2022, accounting for 3.7% of total global arms imports. Throughout the recent five years (2018-2022), China supplied more than three-quarters (77%) of Pakistan’s weaponry imports.
Imports of weapons from East Asia
When compared to the preceding five years, East Asian weapons imports increased by 21% over the review period. While China’s weapons imports increased by 4.1%, Russia remains the dominant source; the most significant increase in military imports was seen among NATO members, South Korea (61%), and Japan (171 per cent). Australia, the most important arms importer in Oceania, had a 23% increase in firearm imports.
The French Connection
France’s armament sales increased by 44 per cent from 2013 to 2017 to 2018-2022. The majority of its exports went to countries in the Middle East and Asia-Oceania. Between 2018 and 2022, India was the largest buyer of French weapons, accounting for 30% of total imports. France has surpassed the United States to become India’s second-largest arms exporter, after only Russia.
Need for India’s Increased Arms Import
- Complexities with the neighbourhood: “India’s tensions with Pakistan and China essentially drive its appetite for weaponry imports. According to SIPRI, India was the world’s largest importer of significant weaponry in 2018-22, accounting for 11% of total worldwide imports.
- Concerns about security: India has long-standing tensions with neighbouring countries such as Pakistan and China, which have contributed to security worries and a perception of the necessity for a powerful military.
- Slow and difficult procurement procedure: India’s procurement process for armaments is frequently slow and complex, causing delays in the acquisition of weapons and equipment. As a result, India now relies on imports to meet its defence demands.
- Limitation of domestic production: India’s domestic arms production capabilities remain restricted, making high-tech weapons and equipment difficult to build. As a result, India is compelled to rely on imports to meet its defence needs.
Arm Supply from India
India was the third-largest weaponry supplier to Myanmar during this era, after Russia and China, accounting for 14% of total imports.
Factors contributing to India’s decline in arms imports include the drop in India’s arms imports between 2013 and 2017 and 2018 to 2022 can be ascribed to a number of causes, including the country’s sluggish and complex arms procurement procedure, efforts to diversify its arms suppliers, and efforts to replace imports with domestically made armaments.
The Indian government has taken a number of initiatives in support of the indigenous defence sector, including allocating 75% of this year’s defence capital procurement budget to buy weapons and systems from local manufacturers, as well as issuing four ‘positive indigenisation lists’ over the past 30 months, effectively barring the import of 411 military items. These measures must be effectively executed in order to limit arm imports.
Article Written By: Atheena Fathima Riyas