The Rise of India's Defence Exports

The Rise of India's Defence Exports

Last updated: Aug, 2022

The Indian armed forces are one of the most powerful forces in the world comprising three divisions: the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force. The Government of India is responsible for safeguarding the defence of India and its borders. The Global Firepower (GFP) annual defence review assigns ranks to different countries on 50 different factors including manpower, airpower, land forces, naval forces, natural resources, logistics, financials and geography. India emerged as the fourth best country in terms of its power index with a score of 0.0979 (0.0000 being perfect) towards the start of 2022.

India has active military manpower of 1.45 lakhs armed personnel. As of January 2022, the country was equipped with 2,182 aircraft including fixed-wing and rotorcraft platforms. The country also had approximately 4,614 tanks and 12,000 armoured vehicles. However, India has emerged as one of the largest arms importers in the world, accounting for 11% of the total global arms sales globally. Alternatively, India has realised it needs to reduce dependence on defence imports and give more weightage to exports. India was the only country among the top countries of the world which has significantly diminished its reliance on imports in the past few years. The country witnessed a 21% decline in imports during 2017-21 versus 2012-16. This was due to a growing emphasis on indigenous design and manufacturing of defence equipment by the private sector and various state-owned companies.

According to the Ministry of Defence, the country’s arms exports have seen a 6x rise since 2014, amounting to Rs. 11,607 crore (US$ 1.5 billion) during FY 2021-22. This astronomical rise was ascribed to various reforms proposed by the government to scale up defence exports and improve the ease of doing business. The government is ambitious to reach an export target of Rs. 36,500 crore (US$ 4.8 billion) by 2025. It inked a crucial export deal worth US$ 375 million (Rs. 2,770 crore) with the Philippines for exporting the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile. This deal is likely to open doors to India’s defence exports to various Asian countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam. India is also in talks with some Middle Eastern countries such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia for exporting the Brahmos missile and Akash air defence missiles.

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