Saudi Arabia, China, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Australia are the next four biggest global importers.
These trends have emerged from a report released on Monday by the Sweden-based think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The assessment was done for a five-year period (2011-2015).
Titled ‘Trends in international arms transfers-2015’, it says, “India was the largest importer of major arms in 2011–15, accounting for 14 per cent of the global total.”
Comparing two five years blocks – that is between 2006–10 and 2011–15 – the report says “imports (by India) increased by 90 per cent”.
During the period 2011–15 India’s imports were three times greater than those of either of its regional rivals: China and Pakistan. “A major reason for the high-level of imports is that India’s arms industry has so far largely failed to produce competitive indigenously designed weapons”, said the report. “During the period 2011–15 Russia supplied 70 per cent of India’s arms imports, the USA 14 per cent and Israel 4.5 per cent”.
The SIPRI predicts, “based on existing orders and weapons, Russia will remain, by a significant distance, the main supplier of major arms to India for the foreseeable future”.
Acquisitions from the US are a break with in the recent past. During the period studied by SIPRI, India procured fighter jets, a sea-borne aircraft carrier and Mi-17-V5 helicopters from Russia; specialised transport planes, the C-130-J Super Hercules and the C-17 Globemaster along with maritime surveillance planes the Boeing P8-I from the US; UAV’s and radars from Israel.
The bigger story is, however, China, which, in a sign of an omnipresent threat, has been helping Pakistan, Bangladesh and Burma in ramping up military prowess. China is now the third largest exporter of weapons ahead of traditional manufacturers Germany, France and UK. Its biggest benefactors are Pakistan, Bangladesh and Burma — all having a shared boundary with India and could potentially cause trouble for New Delhi. The three countries accounted for 71 per cent of Beijing’s exports during 2011-2015.
New Delhi sees China’s exports to countries around India as a part of its long-term strategy of having a ‘string of pearls’ — a kind of military toe-hold in countries around India.
The five biggest exporters in five year block period 2011-2015 were the US, Russia, China, France and Germany. The US and Russia remained by far the largest exporters, accounting for 33 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively, of all global trade.