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India remains world's top arms importer: SIPRI report

Published: 14th Mar, 2024

Context

India continues to be the world’s top arms importer, according to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Key-highlights

Key-highlights of the Report

  • The period between 2014 and 2018 was the first five-year stretch in 50 years (since 1960-1964) when deliveries from Russia or the erstwhile Soviet Union (prior to 1991) made up less than half of India’s arms imports.
  • India was the world’s top arms importer. Its arms imports increased by 4.7 per cent between 2014–18 and 2019–23. Although Russia remained India’s main arms supplier (accounting for 36 per cent of its arms imports), this was the first five-year period since 1960–64 when deliveries from Russia (or the Soviet Union prior to 1991) made up less than half of India’s arms imports. 
  • The increase in French arms exports was largely due to deliveries of combat aircraft to India, Qatar and Egypt. India was the largest single recipient of French arms exports, accounting for nearly 30 percent in the period 2019-2023.
  • France’s overall arms exports increased by 47 percent between 2014–2018 and 2019–2023. This is the first time that the country became the second-biggest arms exporter after the US and just ahead of Russia.
    • The Indian Air Force operates 36 Rafale fighter jets customised in accordance its needs, which were procured after a Euro 7.87 billion deal the two countries signed in September 2016.
    • Furthermore, India is in talks for 26 Rafale Marine jets to be procured for the Navy’s aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. 
  • Pakistan significantly increased its arms imports by 43 percent. Pakistan was the fifth largest arms importer in 2019-23 and China became even more dominant as its main supplier, providing 82 percent of its arms imports.
  • For the first time in 25 years, the US has become the largest supplier to Asia and Oceania.
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