Defence Sector – DPP, Missions, Schemes, Security Forces, etc.

India is amongst the world’s largest arms importers


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: India's arm imports

Mains level: Atmanirbhar in defence

India is amongst the world’s largest arms importers, accounting for 11 per cent of global imports, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

India’s arm imports

  • India’s overall imports decreased by 21% between 2012-16 and 2017-21 but that it was still the world’s biggest importer of military hardware.
  • Russia, France and the US are India’s biggest suppliers of arms, accounting for 46%, 27% and 12% of the country’s imports in the last five years.
  • India’s share of global arms imports stood at 11% during 2017-21 compared to 14% in the previous five-year period.

Dependence on Russia is declining

  • Russia’s arms exports to India fell 47% between 2012-16 and 2017-21 even though the deliveries of several platforms including air defence systems and warships are pending.
  • Russia was the largest supplier of major weapons and systems to India during the two comparative five-year periods.

Significance of the report

  • The report has come at a time when India’s dependence on Russian military hardware, ranging from fighter jets to rifles and submarines to shoulder-fired missiles has come into sharp focus.
  • Though India has been procuring US military hardware in growing numbers about 60% of the weapons inventory of the three services continues to be of Russian-origin.
  • It is still unclear how the new sanctions against Russia could play out and the problems they could create for the armed forces in the short and long term.
  • The possible impact of Russia’s unprecedented economic isolation on India’s military preparedness and the serviceability of weapons and equipment is threatened.

Is it a matter of relief?

  • India has major plans for arms imports because of perceived threats from China and Pakistan, and due to significant delays in indigenous production.
  • The drop in India’s arms imports is, therefore, probably a temporary result of its slow and complex procurement process as well as its shift in suppliers.


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