Russia still India’s largest defence partner

New Delhi: Despite India expanding its military ties with the US, Europe and Israel, Russia remains New Delhi`s number one supplier of weapons with America at a distant second, according to a report on global arms trade in the last five years.

From 2012 to 2016, Russia supplied 68 per cent of India`s arms import, as per the survey by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) – an international think-tank that researches on conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.

In the same period, the US supplied 14 per cent of arms to India, followed by Israel (7.2 per cent).

The SIPRI report also foresees Russia maintaining the lead in supplying weapons to India – which has emerged as the biggest importer of major arms with overseas procurements exceeding that of China and Pakistan.

“Based on existing orders and weapons, Russia will remain, by far, the main supplier of major arms to India for the foreseeable future,” it said.

“However, India expects increasing deliveries due to several major orders from France (another traditional supplier) and from the US, South Korea and Spain – all of which only recently became suppliers of major weapons to India,” said the report.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been making increasing efforts towards his flagship “Make in India” initiative that also endeavours to modernize the country`s ageing military equipment.

Modi has pledged $250 billion for the domestic defence industry to manufacture fighter jets, guns and submarines locally.

But the SIPRI reports hints that India will be overwhelmingly reliant on foreign imports, mainly from Russia, the US and Israel — as has been the trend in the last five years.

“A major reason for the high level of imports is that India`s arms industry has largely failed to produce competitive indigenously designed weapons,” said the report.

According to it, India is also the largest buyer of Russian weapons, taking home 38 per cent of Moscow`s exports. It is also the largest buyer of Israel`s weapons with a 41 per cent share of its exports.

For the UK, India is the second largest buyer, with 11 per cent share of its exports.

Significantly, India does not figure in the top three buyers of US weapons although Washington has designated New Delhi as its Major Defence Partner.

According to the SIPRI report, 47 per cent of US weapons went to countries in the Middle East.

The five biggest arms exporters were the US, Russia, China, France and Germany, together accounting for 74 per cent of the total volume of trade in weapons in the last five years.