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OpinionsIndia diversifies arms supplied benefitting USA as against Russia

India diversifies arms supplied benefitting USA as against Russia


By Girish Linganna

The latest findings from the Stockholm Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) show that was the largest buyer of military equipment globally from 2019 to 2023. This marked a 4.7% increase in its defense procurement compared to the five years prior. Notably, while Russia has been India's primary weapon provider, contributing 36% of its military imports, this period marked the first time since the early 1960s that Russian arms constituted less than half of India's total military imports.

The data indicates that while Russia remains India's main source for military equipment, arms purchases from the United States have surged. India has diversified its defense acquisitions from the U.S., procuring various advanced systems such as the C-17 Globemaster III transport planes, AH-64 Apache combat helicopters, MH-60 Romeo anti-submarine helicopters, P8I Poseidon surveillance aircraft, with more agreements anticipated.

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi's significant visit to the U.S. in June  2023, a notable agreement was signed between GE Aerospace, an American firm, and India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). They agreed to collaborate on manufacturing jet engines for the Indian Air Force's advanced version of the Tejas fighter, the LCA-Mk-II. This deal is a milestone for both nations and paves the way for potential future partnerships.

What's Different Now? : Previously, India primarily sourced its military equipment from Russia (and the Soviet Union before that). However, it has since broadened its horizons, acquiring arms from a diverse group of countries including the U.S., France, and Israel. The U.S. has become a key ally for India as it faces the challenges posed by its neighbours: Pakistan to the west and China to the north.

India's ties with the U.S. took a new direction following the significant nuclear agreement in 2008. This deal allowed the U.S. to engage in nuclear trade with India, despite India not being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

The U.S. views India as a crucial ally in balancing the rising influence of China, which, under President Xi Jinping, has openly expressed ambitions to expand its regional influence. Although the U.S. has successfully used a “hub and spokes” strategy historically, India's unmatched scale, economic weight, and strategic position make it irreplaceable in the Indo-Pacific theater.

The “hub and spokes” strategy refers to a system of bilateral alliances centered around the U.S. (the hub) with various Asian countries (the spokes) to maintain regional stability.

Imagine you have a bicycle wheel. At the center, there's the hub, and it's connected to the rim by several spokes. In the “hub and spokes” strategy, the hub is like the main part of a system (for example, a company's headquarters or a central piece of ), and the spokes are the connections to other, smaller parts of the system (like branches, partners, or applications). This setup is used to efficiently manage and distribute resources, information, or services from the center outwards, making sure everything is connected and runs smoothly. It's a way to keep things organized and ensure that the central hub has control and oversight over the various parts it's connected to.

Furthermore, India is still purchasing military hardware from Russia, having placed orders for the S-400 missile defense system from Moscow. Despite the risk of U.S. sanctions, New Delhi stands firm on its decision.

It's important to mention that approximately 60% of India's current military equipment originates from Russia. While the proportion of India's arms imports from Russia has decreased from 62% to 45% between 2017 and 2022, India still depends on Moscow for technical maintenance of its Russian-made weaponry. Additionally, India is working with Russia to produce BrahMos missiles.

Moreover, the U.S. has provided Pakistan with F-16 fighter jets, which have seen combat in clashes with India, adding another layer to the strategic dynamics.

Looking Forward: It's clear that the defense partnership between India and the U.S. is set to strengthen over time, no matter who's in charge of either government. Both countries  are  set  to tackle the more attainable goals initially, building up to larger objectives. The U.S. and India  are  also  reconcile to their differing views on topics such as Pakistan and Russia, focusing on the broader strategic goals. In other words, it's important to see the bigger picture rather than getting lost in the details. (IPA Service)





The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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