New Delhi: India’s weapons purchase from the United States, rose from a mere US$ 6.2 million in 2019 to a whopping US$3.4 billion in 2020, after expanded efforts of the US President Donald Trump administration’s to deepen the US’ strategic military relationship with the country.
As per the data released by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the rise in the sale of American weapons to India comes at a time when the sale of weapons from the US to other countries has dipped to USD 50.8 billion in 2020 from USD 55.7 billion in 2019.
The DSCA data also comes along with a report of Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) leading conflict think-tank, which stated that India is the second largest importer of weapons in the world after Saudi Arabia, despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to promote indigenous defence production.
Earlier this year in February, when US President Trump visited the country, India signed a deal worth $3 billion defense deal. The deals included the procurement of 24 MH-60 Romeo helicopters by India for a reported $2.2 billion. A contract to purchase an additional six AH-64E Apache helicopters at a cost of $800 million was also finalized.
The MH-60 Romeo Seahawk which is one of the most advanced submarine helicopters in the world and is expected to be deployed on the Indian Navy’s warships. The choppers can also be designed to integrate the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) manufactured by the Norwegian company, Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace.
The first batch of these helicopters are expected to arrive next year and will be replacing the British Sea King currently in use by the Navy.
The AH-64E Apache, developed by Boeing, is the most advanced chopper used by the United States. The helicopter, reportedly, specializes in armed reconnaissance, close-air support and mobile strike missions, and has extensive combat experience, having also been used by Israel, Japan and the United Kingdom. The Indian Air Force already has 17 Apache choppers in use.
India has sought to redouble its military expansion and modernisation efforts, in the view of the military stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops. The Ministry of Defence in September approved the purchase of 72,000 pieces of Sig Sauer assault rifles worth Rs 780 crores, from the US.
It is also worth mentioning; India’s assault rifle shortage was expected to be solved by the production of 6.7 lakh AK 203 rifles to be manufactured in Uttar Pradesh (in collaboration with Russia) but the ‘Make in India’ initiative has faced significant delays.
According to a report from SIPRI, under the PM Modi-led government, US arms sales to India have grown fivefold over the last five years alone, even though Russia has historically been India’s largest arms provider.
Over the last decade, India has purchased around $18 Billion worth weaponry from the US.