India Eyes A New Role In The Global Arms Race

India has been spending more money on buying arms than any other country, sitting atop the list of arms importing countries for years. From 2011-15, the South Asian country has nearly doubled the amount of its expenditure from the 2006-10 period, making it a lucrative market for top arms exporters like the United States and Russia.

But India wants to flip its role in the global arms industry by transforming itself into a leading arms exporting nation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has already scaled up efforts toward attaining this goal. Last week, the chief of India’s Defense Research and Development Organization said India is currently discussing the sale of short-range surface-to-air Akash missile to Vietnam. If the deal is signed, this will mark India’s first ever missile transfer to a foreign country.

India looks to Vietnam

During a visit to Vietnam last year, Modi offered the Southeast Asian country a line of credit worth $500 million to help beef up its defense capacity. India also offered a $100 million loan to build four patrol vessels for Vietnam. The defense cooperation has essentially elevated the bilateral relationship to what the both countries hail as “strategic partnership.”

However, for India, it means a bit more. New Delhi is wooing Hanoi to purchase the Brahmos missile, jointly developed with Russia. This supersonic cruise missile has a range of 250 kilometers and can be launched from land, sea and submarine. The Brahmos is the most advanced among the defense ministry-endorsed list of military hardware that can be exported by Indian companies. The list also includes armored vehicles, warships, tanks, electronic warfare devices, software, bombs and torpedoes aside from typical items such as ammunition, rifles, small arms and military training equipment.

Due to Vietnam’s dispute with China over the South China Sea maritime territories and, of course, the strategic competition between India and China, Indian exports to Vietnam are certain to stir the interest of many Asian countries. Whether India will go to great lengths to strengthen Vietnam’s defense or stop short of the threshold so as to not upset Beijing would help shape India’s future role in the regional arms race.

Meanwhile, India has quietly expanded the list of shoppers of its weaponry. It has supplied Afghanistan with combat helicopters, a move that has made Pakistan more wary of Indo-Afghan ties. And in 2014, the country sold a small warship to Mauritius, showing India’s keen interest in building a naval exporting industry.

Modi’s efforts and challenges

At present, India’s per annum arms sale stands around $150 million. Prime Minister Modi wants to raise the figure to $3 billion in a decade. This ambitious goal is part of his highly-touted “Make in India” campaign to transform the South Asian nation into a manufacturing powerhouse.

In order to facilitate arms exports, the government has revised the Standard Operating Principles (SOPs), getting rid of the practice of countersigning the End User Certificate (EUC) by multiple government agencies for selected export items. And to further reduce bureaucracy, the application process and issuance of No Objection Certificates (NOCs) for military equipment to be exported has moved online. The government has also relaxed the caps previously imposed on foreign investment in the home-based defense industry.

Aside from bureaucracy, another challenge for India is achieving the technological prowess essential for producing an advanced weapon system. For instance, after years of effort, the air force finally developed a fighter jet, Tejas. But the navy says they won’t use it because the overweight jet is not suitable for the aircraft carrier.

New Delhi also needs to figure out ways to lure foreign companies to share their technology and manufacturing skills with Indian companies. The latest $8.7 billion deal with France’s Dassault Aviation, which will reinvest 30% of the deal in India’s aircraft industry, can be considered an apparent success for India. Regardless, India has still a long way to go to build an export-oriented military industry.

 

 

 

 

 

Source:- Forbes

The post India Eyes A New Role In The Global Arms Race appeared first on Indian Defence Update.



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