In charts | India’s defence exports at record high, but here’s a reality check

  • India’s defence exports increased by 24% from a year ago but it is still 54% short of achieving the 2025 goal of 35,000 crore. The country also remains the largest importer of defence equipment, and its share in global arms exports is tiny

Manjul Paul
First Published3 Apr 2023, 10:06 PM IST
Defence minister Rajnath Singh. (File photo Hindustan Times)
Defence minister Rajnath Singh. (File photo Hindustan Times)

India’s defence exports have increased tenfold in the last six years, showed a Mint analysis of Ministry of Defence data. Defence exports reached an all-time high of 15,918 crore in the fiscal year 2022-23, a 24% increase from the previous year's exports of 12,815 crore.

This is, however, 54% short of the country’s aim to achieve an annual export target of 35,000 crore by 2025, as per a statement made by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh last year. India’s goal is to become a net exporter of defence equipment.

India’s share in arms exports is very less and it was one of the top importers of defence supplies in the five years from 2018 to 2022, according to a report released last month by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a Sweden-based research institute on global security. India was one of the main arms suppliers to Myanmar during the same period.

According to the SIPRI report, India was not even among the top 25 countries with the largest share in arms exports, which means its share in the global arms exports was minuscule. The largest exporters from 2018 to 2022 were the US, Russia, France, China and Germany.

However, India was the largest importer of defence supplies, with a share of 11% of total global arms imports between 2018 and 2022. It has held its position as the largest arms importer since 1993.

“India’s tensions with Pakistan and China largely drive its demand for arms imports,” noted the latest SIPRI report. According to the report, India retained its position even as its arms imports dropped by 11% between 2013-17 and 2018-22.

Russia was the largest supplier of arms to India in the last five years, providing 45% of its needs, followed by France (29%) and the US (11%).

The value of India’s defence production fell by 28% in FY23, from roughly 95,000 to 68,000 crore, after rising in the preceding two years.

Despite the push to privatize the defence sector in order to become self-reliant in terms of defence equipment, public sector enterprises continue to produce a majority of defence equipment (57%), but private companies are catching up (21%).

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First Published:3 Apr 2023, 10:06 PM IST
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