Indian arms imports grow by 111pc: Sipri

March 18, 2014 - 7:07:46 am
New Delhi: India has become the world’s largest arms importer over 2004-13 with Russia winning 75 percent of the orders to replace the Indian armed forces’ old, Soviet vintage weapons, Sipri said yesterday, adding the country’s purchases had increased by 111 percent.

In a report on world arms transfers, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) said that South Asia, including both India and Pakistan, and the Arab Gulf states led have shown a rising trend in arms imports.

During the nine-year period, specifically 2004-8 and 2009-13, India’s arms imports grew by 111 percent, and that of Pakistan by 119 percent over their respective pre-2004 figures.

Sipri pointed out that “its data reflects the volume of deliveries of arms, not the financial value of the deals. As the volume of deliveries can fluctuate significantly year-on-year, Sipri presents data for 5-year periods, giving a more stable measure of trends.”

It has to be kept in mind that although India has acquired substantial number of weapons, these do not indicate any aggressive buildup as most of what is being bought is to replace its 30-40-year-old inventory. There are, in fact, several important deals pending either due to procedural delays or allegations of corruption, necessitating inquiries.

Indian ministry of defence (MoD) sources told India Strategic( defence magazine that the Sipri report is “interesting, not surprising,” adding that several major systems had been ordered in the recent years for all the three services. “There are delays, yes, largely due to correct or unfounded allegations, and also due to procedural issues both within the armed forces and the MoD, but there has been progress forward,” the sources said.

The Indian Air Force (IAF), for instance, has selected several systems from combat aircraft (Rafale MMRCA) to midair refuellers (Airbus A 330 MRTT), Boeing C-17 Globemaster III heavy lift transport aircraft, Lockheed Martin’s C-130J Special Operations aircraft, Russian Mi 17 V5 helicopters, 272 SU-30 MKI combat aircraft and so on. 

Agreements have also been reached with Russia for co-production of Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA) and the Fifth Generation Multirole Perspective Aircraft (initially called Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft) besides acquisition of a large number of tanks and armour.

US supplies to India are being put at seven percent, but it has now become India’s second-largest supplier, replacing Israel, which has had a major share due to the three Phalcon AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control Systems) aircraft, or eyes in the sky.

Some deals for Boeing’s C-47 Chinook and AH 64D Apache helicopters, and BAE Systems lightweight M777 howitzers are still pending but should be finalised soon after the elections, sources said.

It would not be correct for an outgoing government to conclude deals, particularly as they invariably draw allegations at least from some vested interests. Appropriately, the Government has sought time till July 2014 or so from various suppliers, sources told IndiaStrategic.