India was the world’s largest importer of military hardware during 2010-14, accounting for 15% of global arms imports, a leading think tank said on Monday.
As Asian arms imports continued to increase, five of the top 10 largest importers of major weapons during the five-year period were from Asia. Besides India, the others in big league were China (5% of global arms imports), Pakistan (4%), South Korea (3%) and Singapore (3%).
India was also far ahead of second and third placed Saudi Arabia and China, which accounted for about 5% each of the total volume of purchases.
Despite a string of big ticket deals inked with the US in recent years, Russia remained the biggest supplier of military gear for India, accounting for 70 per cent of the country’s purchases, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
India, China, Pakistan, South Korea and Singapore accounted for 30% of the total volume of arms imports worldwide. India alone accounted for 34% of the volume of arms imports to Asia, more than three times as much as China.
China’s arms imports actually decreased by 42% between 2005-09 and 2010-14, SIPRI said while publishing new data on international arms transfers in its annual report.
The data reflects the volume of arms deliveries, not the financial value of deals, the think tank said.
Among India’s big ticket defence purchases that were listed by SIPRI were a $4-billion deal for six Scorpene submarines from France, a $1.1-billion deal with Israel and Russia for the Phalcon airborne warning and control system aircraft, two multi-billion dollar deals with Russia for 182 Su-30MKI combat jets and a host of deals with different countries for engines, radars, sensors and a wide array of missiles.
The volume of US exports of major weapons rose by 23% between 2005-09 and 2010-14. The US’s share of the volume of global arms exports was 31% in 2010-14, compared with 27% for Russia.
Russian defence exports increased 37% between 2005-09 and 2010-14 while Chinese exports went up by 143%, making it the third largest supplier. Pakistan bought 41% of Chinese defence gear, and, and along with Bangladesh and Myanmar, accounted for more than two-thirds of Chinese exports.
Among countries with nuclear weapons, SIPRI said China, India and Pakistan were the only states that were expanding their nuclear arsenals, while the US and Russia continued to reduce their arsenals but at a slower pace than a decade ago.
SIPRI estimated that India had 90 to 110 nuclear warheads by 2014 while the figure for Pakistan was 100 to 120.