India leads in arms imports during 2019-23

  • According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India would be the world’s largest arms importer from 2019 to 2023, emphasising its importance in global arms trade dynamics.
  • Despite geopolitical developments and regional tensions, India’s arms buying trends show strategic imperatives and defence priorities. 

India’s Arms Imports and Global Trends

  • Top Arms Importer: India was the world’s greatest arms importer from 2019 to 2023, with a 4.7% rise over 2014 to 2018.
  • The top ten arms exports are as follows: the United States (42%), France (11%), Russia (11%), China (5.8%), Germany (5.6%), Italy (4.3%), the United Kingdom (3.7%), Spain (2.7%), Israel (2.4%), and South Korea (2%).
  • Other Importers: India is the leading arms importer, followed by Saudi Arabia (8.4%), Qatar (7.6%), Ukraine (4.9%), Pakistan (4.3%), Japan (4.1%), Egypt (4%), Australia (3.7%), South Korea (3.1%), and China (2.9%).
  • European Arms Imports: Between 2014-18 and 2019-23, European countries’ arms imports increased by 94%, coinciding with the conflict in Ukraine.
  • Shift in Suppliers: While Russia remained India’s leading arms supplier, its percentage of deliveries fell, marking the first time since 1960-64 that it accounted for less than half of India’s arms imports.
  • Regional Distribution: In 2019-23, Asia, Oceania, and West Asia accounted for nine of the top 10 arms importers, with Ukraine ranking fourth. 

Budget Allocation and Procurements

  • The interim Budget for FY 2024-25 allotted ₹6.2 lakh crore to the Defence Ministry, with a capital allocation of ₹1.72 lakh crore for new procurements. This is a 5.78% increase from the previous year.
  • India’s Position: India resumed its position as the leading arms importer, surpassing Saudi Arabia, while Pakistan saw a large increase in weaponry purchases, primarily from China. 

Analysis and Forecasts

  • US Global Role: The US increased its role as a major armaments supplier, in line with its foreign policy goals of strategic alliances and influence.
  • French Arms Exports: France became the world’s second-largest arms provider, with a considerable amount of exports going to Asia, Oceania, and West Asia, mainly combat aircraft to India, Qatar, and Egypt.
  • Future Projections: With significant orders for high-value weaponry, such as combat planes and helicopters, European arms imports are projected to continue high in the coming years.

What conclusions can we draw from this?

  • Security issues: India has long-standing disputes with neighbouring countries such as Pakistan and China, which have raised security worries and fueled the perception of a need for a robust military.
  • Slow and difficult procurement procedure: India’s procurement process for armaments is frequently slow and complex, resulting in delays in purchasing weapons and equipment. As a result, India’s defence demands are being met through imports.
  • Lack of domestic production: India’s domestic arms production capabilities remain restricted, making it difficult to create advanced weapons and equipment. This has pushed India to rely on imports to meet its defence needs.
  • Diversification of suppliers: While Russia has traditionally been India’s primary supplier of armaments, in recent years India has expanded its sources of weapons and equipment to include France, Israel, and the US.


  • These trends highlight the changing dynamics of global arms trade, which are shaped by geopolitical developments, regional conflicts, and strategic alliances. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

And get notified everytime we publish a new blog post.