Between 2012 and 2016, Russia supplied 68 per cent of India's arms import, as per the survey by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) — a Swedish think-tank notable for its data and research on conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.
During the same period, the US increased its supply of arms to India, but nonetheless remained a distant second at 14 per cent, followed by Israel at 7.2 per cent. The SIPRI report also says that Russia will maintain its lead in supplying weapons to India.
New Delhi is on a weapons buying spree and will remain as the top most importer as the government seeks to modernize its arsenal amid rising tensions with neighbors China and Pakistan.
"Based on existing orders and weapons, Russia will remain, by far, the main supplier of major arms to India for the foreseeable future. However, India expects increasing deliveries due to several major orders from France (another traditional supplier) and from the US, South Korea and Spain — all of which only recently became suppliers of major weapons to India," said the SIPRI report.
The dependence on overseas weapons suppliers and Russia will not change in the medium term even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been making increasing efforts to indigenize defense production and create a manufacturing base under his flagship "Make in India" initiative to cut costs and boost job creation. His government has earmarked $250 billion for the domestic defense industry.
But, New Delhi is not even in the top three buyers of US weapons despite the previous Barack Obama administration designating India as its major defense partner. In fact, Washington's efforts to open manufacturing facilities are shrouded in doubts with the Donald Trump administration pushing for protectionism and saving American jobs.
According to the SIPRI report, 47 per cent of US weapons went to countries in the Middle East. Globally, the five biggest arms exporters were the US, Russia, China, France and Germany, together accounting for 74 per cent of the total volume of trade in weapons in the last five years.