At 13%, India is world’s largest arms importer

NEW DELHI:India has once again emerged as the world’s largest importer of weapons and military equipment, accounting for 13 per cent of all such international imports.

At 13%, India is world’s largest arms importer


Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 20

India has once again emerged as the world’s largest importer of weapons and military equipment, accounting for 13 per cent of all such international imports. Saudi Arabia, United Arab  Emirates,  China  and Algeria  are the next four biggest global importers.

These trends have emerged from a report released by the Sweden-based think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) today. The assessment was done for a five-year period (2012-2016).

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Titled “Trends in international arms transfers-2016”, the report says, “India was the largest importer of major arms in 2012-16, accounting for 13 per cent of the global total.”

Comparing two five years blocks — 2007-11 and 2012-16 — the report says, “India’s imports increased by 43 per cent and were far greater than those of its regional rivals, China and Pakistan, in the most recent period.”

The SIPRI report said a major reason for the high level of imports is that the Indian arms industry has failed to produce competitive indigenously designed weapons. The USA had 14 per cent and Israel 7.2 per cent share in the Indian market, it said. 

“Based on existing orders and weapons, Russia will remain, by far, the main supplier of major arms to India for the foreseeable future,” the report said. Russia accounts for some 68 per cent of all military equipment supplies to India.

However, the report said India expects increasing deliveries due to several major orders from France (another traditional supplier), the US, South Korea and Spain— which recently became arms suppliers to India.

During the period studied by SIPRI, India procured fighter jets, a sea-borne  aircraft  carrier and  Mi-17 V5 helicopters from Russia; specialised transport planes, the C-130J Super Hercules and the C-17 Globemaster along with maritime surveillance planes Boeing P-8I from the US; UAVs and radars from Israel.


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