NEW DELHI: India is ramping up domestic production of complex military equipment, the country’s defense minister said on Thursday.
The South Asian nation is heavily dependent on Russia for more than half of its armaments.
With the world’s second-largest army, fourth-largest air force and seventh-largest navy, India has for decades been largely dependent on arms imports, especially from Russia, which in the 1990s contributed 80 percent of its defense equipment.
The one-source dependence dropped significantly with the entry of US and European producers into the Indian market in the 2000s, but Moscow still remains a key player in the field, supplying an estimated 55 percent of India’s military hardware.
International sanctions imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine since late February have sparked doubts about future imports.
“Our main goal is to promote self-reliance and export in defense,” Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said as he released a list of military equipment that will be produced domestically.
The list contains 101 items, including complex defense systems, tanks, sensors, rockets, multi-role helicopters, patrol vessels, anti-ship missiles, anti-radiation missiles and other supplies of war used by the Indian Armed Forces, which Singh added “were earlier only imported.”
The Ministry of Defense said in a statement that weapons and platforms from the list will be procured from local sources within the next five years. It also estimated that the orders will be worth more than $38 billion.
India has been working on decreasing its dependence on military imports from one source for the past few years.
“The significant acquisition of Western platforms in the past five-seven years has diluted that percentage or brought down the share of Russian weapons in the Indian defense market,” Nandan Unnikrishnan, distinguished fellow at New Delhi-based think tank Observer Research Foundation, told Arab News.
He added that the indigenization of production was also contributing to the fact.
India’s Defense Ministry has already identified a “positive indigenization list” of more than 300 military items since May last year. The newest list contains the most expensive and complex equipment so far.
The government said in the 2022-23 budget that 68 percent of India’s capital defense procurement would be directed at local manufacturers.