India’s arms imports decreased by 33% between 2011–15 and 2016–20: SIPRI

Drop seems to be mainly due to its complex and lengthy procurement processes, says Swedish think tank

Arms imports decreased by 33% between 2011–15 and 2016–20 while India continues to remain the second largest arms importer after Saudi Arabia, according to a report from Swedish think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Also read: ₹70,221 crore reserved in defence budget for domestic procurement, says Rajnath Singh

“The overall drop in arms imports between 2011–15 and 2016–20 seems to be mainly due to its complex and lengthy procurement processes, combined with its attempts to reduce its dependence on Russian arms by diversifying its network of arms suppliers,” the report released on Monday said.

The report said Russia was the largest arms supplier in both years. “However, Russia’s deliveries dropped by 53% between the two periods and its share of Indian arms imports fell from 70 to 49%.”

The U.S. was the second largest arms supplier to India in 2011–15 but in 2016–20 India’s arms imports from the U.S. were 46% lower than in the previous five-year period, making the U.S. the fourth largest supplier in 2016–20.

France and Israel were the second and third largest arms suppliers in 2016–20. “India’s arms imports from France increased by 709% while those from Israel rose by 82%,” the report said adding that combat aircraft and associated missiles made up more than 50% of arms imports.

The report said as India perceives increasing threats from Pakistan and China and as its ambitious plans to produce its own major arms have been significantly delayed, it is planning large-scale programmes for arms imports. “Based on its outstanding deliveries of combat aircraft, air defence systems, ships and submarines, India’s arms imports are expected to increase over the coming five years,” it said.

Also read: India, China among top three military spenders in 2019: SIPRI report

Arms imports by Pakistan between 2011–15 and 2016–20 decreased by 23%. China accounted for 61% of its imports in 2011–15 and for 74% in 2016–20.

Like India, Pakistan too has several large outstanding orders for arms, according to the report. They are scheduled for delivery by 2028 and include 50 combat aircraft, eight submarines and four frigates from China and four frigates from Turkey, the report said.

As part of efforts to boost defence imports and promote domestic manufacturing, the Defence Ministry had last year notified a list of 101 items on the negative import list. The second negative list with more items is expected to be issued later this year. In addition, the Ministry has reserved a part of the capital budget for procurement from domestic industry.

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