SIPRI Report on Global Arms Import


    In News

    • India remains the biggest arms importer between 2018-22 despite a drop in overall imports.


    • India is the world’s largest arms importer for the period between 2018-22, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
    • SIPRI is a leading international research institute focused on conflict, peace, and arms control.
    • According to the findings, India’s arms imports dropped by 11% between 2013–17 and 2018–22, but it still holds its position as the world’s biggest importer of major arms since 1993.
    • Russia was the largest supplier of arms to India, but its share of total Indian arms imports fell from 64% to 45% while France emerged as the second largest supplier between 2018-22.

    Key Findings:

    • India’s Arms Imports and Exports:
      • India is the biggest arms export market to Russia, France, and Israel and the second largest export market to South Korea
      • India was also the third largest market for South Africa which was ranked 21 in the list of arms exporters
      • For the same period, India remained the largest arms importer followed by Saudi Arabia, with Russia accounting for 45% of India’s imports followed by France (29%) and the US (11%)
      • India was the third largest arms supplier to Myanmar after Russia and China accounting for 14% of its imports
      • India is now looking to become a significant exporter of defence equipment by aiming for $5 billion in exports and $22 billion in turnover by 2025.
    • Reasons for Decrease in India’s Arms Imports:
      • India’s slow and complex arms procurement process,
      • Efforts to diversify its arms suppliers
      • Attempts to replace imports with major arms that are designed and produced domestically
    • Russia’s Arms Exports:
      • Just under two thirds of Russian arms exports went to three states in 2018–22 — India (31%), China (23%) and Egypt (9.3%)
      • Russia’s position as India’s main arms supplier is under pressure due to strong competition from other supplier states, increased Indian arms production and since 2022, the constraints on Russia’s arms exports related to its invasion of Ukraine.
    • Pakistan’s Arms Imports:
      • Arms imports by Pakistan increased by 14% between 2013–17 and 2018–22.
      • It accounted for 3.7% of the global total with China supplying 77% of Pakistan’s arms imports in 2018–22.
    • Global Arms Transfers:
      • The global level of international arms transfers decreased by 5.1%, imports of major arms by European states increased by 47% between 2013–17 and 2018–22 in the backdrop of the war in Ukraine.
      • The U.S. share of global arms exports increased from 33% to 40% while Russia’s fell from 22% to 16%.

    Challenges of arms imports:

    • Slow and complex procurement process: India’s arms procurement process is often slow and complex, which can delay the acquisition of necessary weapons and equipment.
    • Dependence on foreign suppliers: India remains heavily dependent on foreign suppliers for its arms imports, which can make it vulnerable to supply disruptions, geopolitical tensions, and changing global dynamics.
    • Diversification of suppliers: India is making efforts to diversify its arms suppliers to reduce its dependence on any one country, but this process can be difficult and time-consuming.
    • Domestic arms production: India is also attempting to produce more of its own arms domestically, but this requires significant investments in infrastructure, technology, and skilled labor.
    • Replacement of imports: India is seeking to replace some of its imports with domestically designed and produced arms, but this process can be slow and challenging.

    Government steps

    The Indian government has taken several steps to promote domestic arms production and reduce the country’s reliance on arms imports. Some of these measures include:

    • Defence Manufacturing Policy: The government has formulated a Defence Manufacturing Policy that aims to create an ecosystem for domestic defence manufacturing, enhance self-reliance, and reduce dependence on imports.
    • Make in India: The Make in India initiative encourages domestic production of defence equipment, including fighter jets, submarines, and helicopters, by providing incentives for private sector investment in the defence industry.
    • Strategic Partnership Model: The Strategic Partnership (SP) Model is a policy framework that allows private sector companies to partner with foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to produce defence equipment in India.
    • Technology Transfer: The government is encouraging technology transfer from foreign OEMs to Indian companies, enabling the latter to manufacture and maintain sophisticated defence equipment domestically.
    • Defence Exports: The government is promoting exports of defence equipment to other countries, which not only helps Indian defence manufacturers to grow but also enhances India’s reputation as a global defence supplier.
    • Defence Innovation Fund: The Defence Innovation Fund (DIF) has been set up to provide financial support to start-ups and MSMEs working on innovative defence technologies.
    • Defence Corridors: The government has announced the establishment of two defence corridors, one in Uttar Pradesh and the other in Tamil Nadu, to promote defence manufacturing in these regions.


    • SIPRI was founded in 1966 by the Swedish parliament as an independent research institute.
    • Its main objective is to conduct research on issues related to international peace and security, including arms control, disarmament, and conflict resolution.
    • It is funded by a combination of government grants, private donations, and project-based funding.
    • SIPRI’s flagship publication is the SIPRI Yearbook, which provides comprehensive data and analysis on global military expenditure, arms transfers, and other relevant security issues.
    • The institute also produces other reports, briefs, and databases on various topics related to conflict, arms control, and peacebuilding.
    • It maintains an extensive database of military expenditure, arms transfers, and other relevant data, which is freely available on its website.
    • The institute collaborates with other research institutes, governments, and civil society organizations around the world to promote peace and security.
    • SIPRI is based in Stockholm, Sweden, but has a global reach and influence, with its research and analysis informing policy decisions and public debates in many countries.

    Source: TH