Tuesday 23 July 2019, 12:53 PM
India is again largest impoter of weapons: SIPRI
By IANS | Bharat Defence Kavach | Publish Date: 3/16/2015 12:00:00 AM
India is again largest impoter of weapons: SIPRI

New Delhi : India has yet-again emerged as the world’s single largest buyer of weapons, arms  and military equipment, accounting for some 15 per cent of all international imports. American and Israeli companies have eroded some of Russian monopoly in the Indian Defence market.

The bigger threat to India is from China which is supplying weapons to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Burma– all having a shared boundary with India and could potentially cause trouble. The three countries accounted for 68 per cent of Beijing’s exports.

Saudi Arabia, China, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Pakistan, are the other biggest global importers. Pakistan  got 51 per cent of its equipment from China and 30 per cent from the US.

Sweden-based think-tank, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has made these assessments in a report ‘trends in international arms transfers 2014’ and released early morning on March 16. The report studies the five year period between 2010 and 2014. The SIPRI is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.

Titled ‘trends in international arms transfers’, the report has three key points for India to watch.

First, New Delhi’s attempts to be self-reliant in defence equipment were not enough.  More and more sophisticated planes, warships and radars are procured from outside; Second, Russia’s share has dropped with US and Israeli companies chipping away and third China is increasing its grip in various areas  of interest around India.

“India’s share in global imports has increased by 140 per cent over the previous five year bloc, 2005–2009…India’s imports were three times larger than those of either of its regional rivals China and Pakistan. This contrasts with 2005–2009 when India’s imports were 23 per cent below China’s and just over double those of Pakistan,” The SIPRI report said

US and Israel companies gain.

The share of India’s oldest military ally in India’s defence procurement has dropped marginally. In the period 2010–14 – studied by the latest SIPRI report -- Russia supplied 70 per cent of India’s imports, the USA 12 per cent and Israel 7 per cent. Acquisitions from the USA are a break with the recent past.  The acquisitions from the USA are a break with the recent past. Prior to 2005–2009 India barely received any major weapons from the USA. However, there now appears to be an upward trend in arms imports from the USA. “Imports in 2010–14 were 15 times higher than in 2005–2009 and included advanced weapons such as anti-submarine warfare aircraft. In 2014 additional deals with the USA were agreed, including for 22 (Boeing Apache) combat helicopters,” the report said

During the period studied by SIPRI, India procured Sukhoi-30-MKI and MiG29-K fighter jets along with Mi-17-V5 helicopters from Russia; The Us supplied specialized transport planes, the Lockheed Martin’s  C-130-J Super Hercules, the Boeing’s C-17 Globemaster-III, The Boeing P-8I Naval surveillance aircraft and  UAV’s and radars came from Israel.

The previous SIPRI report that studied the period 2009-2013 had said Russia supplied 75 per cent of the equipment to India while US and Israel  had 7 per cent and 6 per cent sales. This means Russia’s share of 70 per cent , mentioned in the latest report is a drop from earlier year while the US and Israel have grown.

Threat from China in India’s neighbourhood

The biggest sign of a threat is India’s neighbour China, that is helping Pakistan, Bangladesh and Burma in increasing military prowess. China is now the third largest exporter of weapons ahead of traditional manufacturers Germany, France and UK, said the report.

China’s exports to countries  around India is part of its  long- term strategy of having a ‘string of pearls’   --- a military toe-hold in countries around India.

“Chinese exports of major arms increased by 143 per cent between 2005–2009 and the latest five year block 2010–14. Its share of global arms exports increased from 3 to 5 per cent”,  the report said. The five biggest exporters in 2010–14 were the United States, Russia, China, Germany and France. The USA and Russia remained the largest exporters, accounting for 31 per cent and 27 per cent, respectively,  of all global trade..

Indian interest under threat.

In recent years submarines have featured as preferred deterrence platform as tensions rise in the South China Sea and the Asia Pacific are one of the possible reasons for Asia’s rising share in global weapons market.

Several Asian states have recently become submarine operators in the past five-six years. Vietnam received in 2013 the first of 6 kilo-class boats on order from Russia. Malaysia received 1 submarine from France and 1 from Spain in 2009 and has plans for more boats. Bangladesh agreed in 2013 on the procurement from China of its first 2 submarines. Indonesia has 3 boats on order from South Korea and Singapore received 2 submarines from Sweden and ordered 2 more from Germany.  Thailand, Burma and the Philippines have plans to acquire submarines as well.

Of these, the Philippines Vietnam, Indonesia  and Malaysia are among the six countries with varying overlapping claims over the hydro-carbon rich and South China Sea while Burma Thailand, Indonesia  Singapore and Malaysia form the ring of countries around the Straits of Malacca.

The US Energy Administration estimates that 11 billion barrels (bbl) of oil reserves and 190 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas reserves are available in the South China Sea. India, has oil-blocks off the coast of Vietnam  besides a stated a target of achieving a $100 billon trade with the ASEAN countries- all located east of India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama at their meeting in New Delhi in January had unveiled a ‘Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region’.  It talked about “…importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and over flight throughout the region, especially in the South China Sea”.

Earlier this month, Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr, who heads the Pacific Fleet of the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM), on a visit to India said China’s activities in the South China Ses were a ‘cause of concern’.

India has a nuclear-powered submarine from Russia ; it is also building 6 French submarines under licence and plans 6 more, Australia plans to acquire 12 new boats some of them from Japan and Pakistan plans 6 from China.


India is again largest impoter of weapons: SIPRI


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