India remains world’s largest importer of arms: SIPRI report

It, however, registers a 11% drop in imports between 2013-17 and 2018-22; Russia remains the largest supplier to India, followed by France

India remained the world’s largest arms importer for the five-year period between 2018 and 2022 even though its arms imports dropped by 11% between 2013-2017 and 2018-2022, according to the Swedish think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Russia was the largest supplier of arms to India from 2013 to 2022, but its share of total imports fell from 64% to 45% while France is the second largest supplier.

As per latest SIPRI data, among the top 10 arms exporters for the period 2018 to 2022, India was the biggest arms export market to three countries — Russia, France and Israel — and the second largest export market to South Korea. India was also the third largest market for South Africa, which was ranked 21 in the list of arms exporters.

For the same period, India remained the largest arms importer followed by Saudi Arabia. Russia accounted for 45% of India’s imports followed by France (29%) and the U.S. (11%). Also, India was the third largest arms supplier to Myanmar after Russia and China accounting for 14% of its imports.

“India’s tensions with Pakistan and China largely drive its demand for arms imports. With an 11% share of total global arms imports, India was the world’s biggest importer of major arms in 2018 to 2022, a position it has held for the period 1993 to 2022. It retained this position even though its arms imports dropped by 11% between 2013 to 2017 and 2018 to 2022,” according to SIPRI data.

“The decrease can be attributed to several factors including India’s slow and complex arms procurement process, efforts to diversify its arms suppliers, and attempts to replace imports with major arms that are designed and produced domestically.”

The report noted that Russia’s position as India’s main arms supplier is under pressure due to strong competition from other supplier states, increased Indian arms production and, since 2022, also the impact of war in Ukraine

“India’s arms imports from France, which included 62 combat aircraft and four submarines, increased by 489% between 2013 to 2017 and 2018 to 2022. France therefore displaced the U.S. to become the second largest supplier to India in 2018 to 2022,” the report said.

Just under two thirds of Russian exports went to three states from 2018 to 2022 — India (31%), China (23%) and Egypt (9.3%). India was also the largest recipient of Russian arms from 2013 to 2017, but exports decreased by 37% between the two periods.