India’s military budget is soon set to surpass Britain’s military spending very soon, a defense analysis firm has said.
As per the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in 2015, India overtook France in military spending and is fast approaching Britain, which is behind the US, China, Saudi Arabia and Russia.
In the 2015 Budget, the Modi government had increased the country’s military spending by 11 per cent to reach $36 billion. In the 2016 Budget, the defence spending for 2016-17 has further gone up to $51 billion, 2.25 per cent of the country’s GDP.
In real terms though the Indian defense budget would be even higher since pensions, border forces, and nuclear warheads/missile development are not included in this amount.
However, India’s military spending may look minuscule in comparison to China, which is the world’s second-biggest military spender, with a $215 bn budget last year.
In September this year, India signed a deal with France to purchase 36 off-the-shelf Dassault Rafale twin-engine fighters for the price of nearly $8.5 billion. Before the BRICS summit this month, Modi also signed a major arms procurement agreement with Russia. Besides jointly producing 200 small, twin-engine Kamov Ka-226T helicopters, the deal also includes an S-400 Triumf long-range air defence missile system from Russia worth over $5 billion.
India is also finalising its negotiation with Israel before Modi’s planned visit to that country to sign a number of military deals, including laser-designation pods and anti-tank guided missiles worth over $3 billion.
At the moment, India is the world’s biggest arms importer.
In India’s neighbourhood, its arch-rival India Pakistan is spending $12.3 bn on its military. In comparison Pakistan’s defense budget is the lowest in the region.
A major reason for India spending considerably high amount on its defence is its fast growing economy, which has grown at an average rate of almost 7 per cent a year since 2000. However, Pakistan’s economy has grown at a very less rate and its military has been involved in costly conflicts on the Indian border and Kashmir, on the Afghan border and with homegrown terrorists.
However, Pakistan has ruled out any reduction in capping its fast expanding nuclear weapons arsenal and has put the onus for an arms race on India.
Modi government has given a $250 billion modernisation push of the armed forces as it looks to defend itself against an increasingly assertive China and from rival Pakistan. For instance, India’s 1.3 million-strong military force will soon begin the process of acquiring 185,000 assault rifles, along with armour and helmets, to outfit its infantry with more up-to-date equipment.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had issued a request for information last month, according to which, the army needs 7.62 mm rifles, 65,000 in number, within 28 months of signing the contract. These rifles were to be provided to the counter-terrorism units of the army for the elimination of infiltrators at a close range.
The US will remain in the lead, spending $ 637.8 billion this year and a projected $ 538.2 billion in 2020.