South Asia

India is world's 'largest importer' of arms, says study

Indian air force's Sukhoi jets
India accounts for 9% of global arms imports

India has overtaken China to become the world's largest importer of arms, a Sweden-based think tank says.

A report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) says India accounted for 9% of all weapons imports between 2006 and 2010.

India will continue to be to the leading arms importer in the coming future, the report adds.

With a $32.5bn (£20.2bn) defence budget, India imports more than 70% of its arms.

It is looking to spend more than $50bn over the next five years to modernise its armed forces, including a $10bn deal to buy 126 new fighter jets.

India's increased spending on arms also comes amid rising concerns about China's growing power, and its traditional rivalry with neighbouring Pakistan, with which is has fought three wars.

'Big boy'

"India has ambitions to become first a continental and [then] a regional power," South Asian defence analyst Rahul Bedi told the Associated Press news agency.

"To become a big boy, you need to project your power."

A senior fellow at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said India would continue to be a top importer for the years to come.

"Just from what they have already ordered, we know that in the coming few years India will be the top importer," said Siemon Wezeman.

He said China had dropped to second place with 6% of the global weapons as it develops its domestic arms industry.

The US remained the world's largest weapons exporter, followed by Russia and Germany, the report says.

Last October, India announced that it would buy 250 to 300 advanced fifth-generation stealth fighter jets from Russia over the next 10 years.

The deal, which could be worth up to $30bn, is believed to be the largest in India's military history.

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