TechIndia shifts focus from Russian arms to Western military tech

India shifts focus from Russian arms to Western military tech

Tanks during the military parade in New Delhi
Tanks during the military parade in New Delhi
Images source: © Hindustan Times via Getty Images

9:31 AM EDT, June 5, 2024

India, the world's largest arms importer, is changing its purchasing policy. Instead of relying on equipment from Russia, the country is increasingly opting for Western solutions while bravely investing in its defense industry. What weapons play the most significant role in this shift?

According to the Defenseromania portal, citing reports from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in the last two decades, India has spent $60 billion on weapons from Russia. From 2009 to 2013, the share of Russian weapons in the total imported equipment was almost 80 percent. However, this has dropped to just 36 percent in the last five years.

India turns away from Russia

The latest example of India focusing on its solutions is announcing a new air defense system tender. The specifications suggest it will be similar to the previously purchased Russian S-400. It is expected to have a range of up to 220 miles and the ability to combat stealth aircraft and ballistic missiles traveling at very high speeds.

A similar situation is occurring with tanks. Instead of another contract with Russia for light Russian Sprut SDM1 tanks with 4.9-inch caliber guns, the Indian authorities have focused on a domestic project called Zorawar. It will likely feature a 4.1-inch caliber gun and a 1,341 horsepower engine. Additional armament is to include two machine guns.

However, a complete break with Russia is not an option. India does not want to push Russia toward China and simultaneously lose the opportunity for future orders, such as spare parts and components for already-used Russian weapons.

Western equipment in India

The change in India's approach to imports mainly benefits selected NATO countries. India is tightening ties, especially with the United States. Patrol aircraft P-8 Poseidon are already being delivered from there, and talks about Stryker armored personnel carriers are underway. Part of their production might even be transferred to India.

Negotiations are also underway with France to purchase Rafale fighters, which would replace Russian MiG-29s, and India plans to build submarines with several EU countries.

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