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Representative image (Photo: Bloomberg)
Representative image (Photo: Bloomberg)

India was world’s second-largest arms importer in 2015-19: Report

The report by SIPRI, a think tank, says India’s arms imports from both Russia and the US fell during the five-year period, though the decline was more pronounced in the case of Russian arms deals

New Delhi: India remained the world’s second largest arms importer during the period 2015-19, with Russia being the largest supplier though Moscow’s share of the Indian weapons market declined from 72% to 56%, a leading think tank that tracks arms transfers said in its annual report on Monday.

In its annual “Trends in international arms transfers 2019" report, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) listed the world’s top five arms importers during the five-year period as Saudi Arabia, India, Egypt, Australia and China. Together, the five accounted for 36% of all arms imports, the report said.

Saudi Arabia, India and China were also among the top five importers during the period 2010–14. In fact, India has been in the second place, behind Saudi Arabia, in SIPRI’s list of arms importers for several years as it has been taking steps to modernise its armed forces by acquiring combat jets, helicopters, submarines, warships, artillery guns and assault rifles from countries like Russia, the US, France and Israel.

The report said India’s arms imports from both Russia and the US fell during the five-year period, though the decline was more pronounced in the case of Russian arms deals. India accounted for 25% of total Russian arms exports.

“Russia was the largest supplier to India in 2010-14 and 2015-19, but deliveries fell by 47 % and its share of total Indian arms imports went from 72% to 56 %," it said. The US emerged as India’s second-largest arms supplier during 2010-14 as security ties between the two sides progressed 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 report said.

In contrast, arms imports from Israel and France increased, by 175% and 715% respectively, making them the second- and third-largest suppliers during 2015-19.

According to data from SIPRI for the period 2015-19, India also acquired military hardware from other countries, including Scanter-6000 radars from Denmark, Embraer ERJ-145 jets for a home-grown airborne early warning and control system from Brazil, ACTAS sonar systems from Germany, Super Rapid 76mm naval guns from Italy and K-9 Thunder 155mm artillery guns from South Korea.

Between 2010-14 and 2015-19, arms imports by India and Pakistan decreased by 32% and 39% respectively. “While both countries have long-standing aims to produce their own major arms, they remain largely dependent on imports and have substantial outstanding orders and plans for imports of all types of major arms," the report said.

China accounted for 51% of Pakistan’s arm imports during 2010-14 and 73% during 2015-19. The overall decrease in Pakistan’s arms imports was linked to the US decision to stop military aid to Pakistan in 2018. The US accounted for 30% of Pakistan’s arms imports during 2010-14 but for only 4.1% during 2015–19.

During the period 2015-19, Pakistan was ranked the 11th largest arms importer in the world. Pakistan strengthened its arms import relations with Turkey, with orders for 30 combat helicopters and four frigates in 2018.

The report also noted that India and Pakistan had used imported weapons in clashes following the 2019 suicide attack in Pulwama by the Jaish-e-Mohammed that killed 40 troopers.

“Pakistan reportedly used combat aircraft imported from China, equipped with Russian engines, and combat aircraft from the USA supported by airborne early warning and control aircraft from Sweden. India reportedly used combat aircraft imported from France and Russia, guided bombs from Israel and artillery from Sweden," it said.

The report placed India 23rd among the world’s 25 largest arms exporters, with its main clients being Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Mauritius.

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