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India Biggest Arms Buyer Globally

MARCH 17, 2014

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India Biggest Arms Buyer Globally



India is the biggest buyer of arms globally, importing three times as many weapons as China and Pakistan did in the last five years. The total arms sales were up by 14 % from 2009-13 compared to the previous five years, says the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Indian imports of major weapons rose 111% in the last five years and its share of total global arms imports rose from 7% to 14%, says the Swedish think tank. India had superseded China as the world’s biggest arms buyer in 2010. With its domestic defence industry struggling to make high-tech arms, India is on a defence spending spree as it tries to compete with the China and meet other military challenges.

Russia was the main arms supplier to India between 2009-13, making up for 3/4th of all its imports, reflecting the need to modernise the weaponary dating back to the Cold War. India has lately tried to diversify its sources for imports, looking particularly to the USA.

Figures show that India was the biggest buyer of US weapons last year, with its total imports worth $1.9 billion, including many large-scale purchases including Boeing C-17A transport aircraft and P-8I Maritime Patrol Aircraft. Between 2009-13, however, the USA accounted for only 7 % of India’s purchases. Pakistan increased its weapons acquisitions by 119 %, growing from 2 % of the global total to 5 % during this phase.

The five largest arms suppliers globally from 2009-2013 were the USA (29%), Russia (27%), Germany (7 %), China (6 %) and France (5%). Together, they made for 74 % of all arms exports.

The world’s top five arms importers are: India, China, Pakistan, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The three largest importers in the African region are Algeria, Morocco and Sudan. Interestingly, imports by European nations fell 25 % between 2004-2008 and 2009-13. Among them, Britain is the largest importer getting 12 % of all deliveries, followed by Azerbaijan (12 %) and Greece (11 %).


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