Published On: Wed, Aug 13th, 2014

At $553 Million in 3 Years Israel Now India’s 4th largest Arms Supplier

An Indian Army T-72 Tank (Russian made) Photo credit Vivek Patankar

The Indian government yesterday published figures for its arms imports in the past three years showing that Israel is the fourth largest supplier of arms to India.

Israel’s arms sales over the past three years totaled 338.9 trillion rupees, equal to $553 million at the current rate of exchange. The real figure in dollars is higher, because the Indian rupee fluctuated between 40 rupees and 70 rupees to the dollar during those years, and the calculation method used is not clear.

These particulars were disclosed by the Indian minister of defense in response to a query in the upper house of the Indian parliament. According to his figures, the US led weapons sales to India with $5.3 billion, followed by Russia with $4.14 billion and France with $1.96 billion. India is described as the world’s largest arms importer.

These figures represent a painful reverse for the Russian arms industry, which has supplied huge quantities of arms to India for the astronomic sum of $40 billion or more over the past 50 years. The Indian air force is still based on Russian aircraft, but the “Times of India” states, “India, incidentally, has even turned to Israel to upgrade some its Russian-origin equipment.”

The dramatic entry of the US into the Indian arms market has occurred over the past 20 years, and has been hugely accelerated since the end of the past decade. Since 2007, the US has signed $10 billion worth of arms deals with India. US Apache helicopters have pushed Russian M-26s and M-28s out of the market.

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel visited India last week to promote arms sales and to pave the way for joint production, something India is insisting on . Hagel offered an exclusive transfer of advanced technologies to India, something he described as “unprecedented.” Not to be outdone, the Russians are planning joint production with the Indians of their next generation of stealth fighters that are invisible to radar.

Russia’s shunting aside originated in the near war with Pakistan in 1999 (the dispute in Kargil in 1999 along the ceasefire line in the disputed province of Kashmir). The Indian ammunition stocks quickly ran low, and the Russians were unable to replenish them in time. According to a series of foreign reports, including books published in India, Israel was quick to come to India’s assistance with an airlift of howitzer shells. The Indians have also attempted to expand their domestic arms industry. The minister of defense in the previous Indian government said that the beginning of the year that India’s great dependence on foreign supply sources “does not make us happy.”

A senior researcher from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) who monitors the global weapons trade told the New York Times last March that it was doubtful whether any other country in the world had made such a great effort to manufacturer arms as India, only to encounter complete failure.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news – www.globes-online.com

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