It has been a remarkable journey for India’s indigenous defence industry as the country joins the coveted list of leading global arms exporters. In a pleasant surprise for India, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute(SIPRI) has placed the country in the list of top 25 global arms exporters. Though India has made a modest entry at number 23, the feat has paved the way for further improvement in the ranking in the coming years.
India’s entry in this list is significant given the fact that it has been making headlines for being among the top arms exporters of the world. Even this year, India has been ranked as the world’s second-biggest weapons buyers after Saudi Arabia. India is still at the second spot even though the arms imports have gone down by 32% since 2015 owing to the government’s emphasis on its ‘Make in India’ initiative.
Russia is still the largest arms exporter to India with a 56% share. Israel and France are at the second and third spots with 14% and 12% shares respectively. Interestingly, imports from the US have taken a huge dip in the past five years despite the purchase of Apache, Chinook helicopters and additional P8I maritime aircraft. The recent $3 billion deal for Apache and MH 60 ‘Romeo’ choppers has not been taken into account in the data set.
“The USA became the second-largest arms supplier to India in 2010–14 as the security relationship between the two countries developed into a strategic partnership. However, in 2015–19 India continued with its policy of supplier diversification, and imports of arms from the USA were 51% lower than in 2010–14,” the SIPRI report said.
As far as India’s arms exports are concerned, its biggest clients are Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Mauritius. While Myanmar accounts for 46% of exports, Sri Lanka and Mauritius have 25% and 14% shares of Indian exports.
India is focussing on boosting its arms exports and aims to increase its defence exports to $ 5 billion within five years.