In a first, India has figured on a list of global arms exporters, making a modest entry at number 23 but the ranking is likely to rise sharply over the coming years with the government’s focus on encouraging weapons sales abroad. The latest data on global arms transfer by SIPRI shows that Indian arms imports have come down significantly (by 32%) since 2015, indicating that the ‘Make in India’ initiative is gaining ground but the country is still ranked as the world’s second biggest weapons buyers, just behind Saudi Arabia.
  1. Interestingly, imports from the US have taken a huge dip in the past five years, with the data showing that Russia now accounts for 56% of arms supplies
  2. In fact, the US no longer figures among the top three suppliers of arms to India. After Russia, Israel at 14% and France at 12% are the major sources of weapons for India.
  3. Even though India has ordered systems like the Apache and Chinook helicopters and additional P8I maritime aircraft from the US, orders to Russia – from the S 400 anti-air system to additional T 90 Tanks & helicopters have been significantly higher. 
  4. The recent $3 billion deal for Apache and MH 60 'Romeo' choppers has not been taken into account in the data set.
  5. The USA became the second-largest arms supplier to India in 2010–14 as the security relationship between the two countries developed 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 says.
  6. The silver lining for India, along with the 32% dip in imports has been the entry into the exporters list. At present, the exports shown are modest – they account for only 0.2% of the global arms market – but the start is significant. India’s biggest clients are Myanmar, which accounts for 46% of exports, Sri Lanka at 25% and Mauritius at 14%.
  7. India has a target to increase its defence exports to $ 5 billion within five years. The SIPRI data also shows the Pakistan has not become completely dependent on China for its weapon systems. Since 2015, China accounts for 73% of arms imports by Pakistan.
Other notable developments
  1. Germany’s arms exports were 17 per cent higher in 2015–19 than in 2010–14.
  2. China was the fifth-largest arms exporter in 2015–19 and significantly increased the number of recipients of its major arms: from 40 in 2010–14 to 53 in 2015–19.
  3. South Korea’s arms exports rose by 143 per cent between 2010–14 and 2015–19 and it entered the list of the top 10 largest exporters for the first time.
  4. Israeli arms exports increased by 77 per cent between 2010–14 and 2015–19 to their highest-ever level.
  5. West and Central European states had outstanding orders at the end of 2019 for imports of 380 new combat aircraft from the USA.
  6. Egypt’s arms imports tripled between 2010–14 and 2015–19, making it the world’s third-largest arms importer.
  7. Brazil’s arms imports in 2015–19 were the highest in South America, accounting for 31 per cent of the subregion’s arms imports, despite a 37 per cent decrease compared with 2010–14.
  8. South Africa, the largest arms importer in sub-Saharan Africa in 2005–2009, imported almost no major arms in 2015–19.