Between 2006 and 2010, India accounted for 9% of all weapons imports, becoming the world’s largest importer of arms, according to a Sweden-based think tank. (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk)
The report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) also says that in the coming future India will continue to be to the leading arms importer.
“Just from what they have already ordered, we know that in the coming few years India will be the top importer,” said Siemon Wezeman, a senior fellow at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
With 6% of the global weapons, China has dropped to second place because it develops its domestic arms industry.
More than 70% of India’s arms are imported and the defence budget amounts to $32.5bn, a 40 per cent increase from two years ago.
And in order to modernise its armed forces, India could spend more than $50bn in the next five years, including a $10bn deal to buy 126 new fighter jets.
India’s imports of arms come at a time of increasing concerns about China’s growing power, and its traditional rivalry with neighbouring Pakistan, with which it has fought three wars.
“India has ambitions to become first a continental and [then] a regional power,” South Asian defence analyst Rahul Bedi told the Associated Press news agency.
“To become a big boy, you need to project your power.”
The report also says that 82% of India’s imports of arms come from Russia, India’s supplier of choice.
Last October India announced what is believed to be the largest deal in the country’s military history : over the next 10 years it will buy 250 to 300 advanced fifth-generation stealth fighter jets from Russia, for about $30bn.
But the US are still the world’s largest weapons exporter, followed by Russia and Germany.