India has supplanted China as the world’s number one arms importer, according to a report from Swedish think-tank that keeps track of global arms transactions.
India, which seeks to modernize its military in order to keep with up with the Chinese, is expected to spend about $80-billion over the next decade, said The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)
India now accounts for 9 percent of global arms purchases, followed by China at 6 percent.
India has ambitions to become first a continental and [then] a regional power, Rahul Bedi, an analyst with London-based Jane's Defence Weekly, told AP.
To become a big boy, you need to project your power.
Higher investments in arms by India reflects its growing concerns over China’s regional domination and, in particular, China’s apparent designs on shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean, which New Delhi claims as its own.
India is also embroiled in border issues with China – the two powers fought a brief war in 1962. In addition, tensions fluctuate with its enemy to the west, Pakistan, with whom India has fought three wars.
Just from what they have already ordered, we know that in the coming few years India will be the top importer, said Siemon Wezeman, a senior fellow at SIPRI.
The report stated that the defense budget for India for the coming fiscal year alone will amount to about $32.5-billion, a 40 per cent increase from just two years ago. New Delhi reportedly wants to buy fighter jets and aircraft carriers as part of its plan to completely overhaul and modernize its military into a global superpower elite force.
Specifically, India seeks to spend more than $50-billion over the next five years to modernize its military, which includes $10-billion for 126 new fighter jets.
The kind of purchases that India is buying, no country in the world buys,” added Bedi of Jane's Defence Weekly. “What is in the pipeline is huge
The South Asian giant imports about three-quarters of its weapons -- most of which, 82 percent, comes from Russia, the country’s favorite long-time arms supplier.
Indeed, last October India announced what is perhaps its military’s biggest deal ever when it said it will buy 250 to 300 advanced fifth-generation stealth fighter jets from Russia over the next decade (for a total cost of about $30-billion).
However, the U.S. remains the biggest global arms dealer by far, followed by Russia and Germany, according to SIPRI.