On the 9th, India suddenly announced an import ban involving 101 items of weapons and equipment on the grounds of advancing its own national defense. But as one of the world’s largest importers of weapons, can India be able to get rid of its dependence on foreign weapons and equipment in just a few years? Many foreign media reports of the 10th said that India’s “prospects are not optimistic” as regards the Great Leap Forward in indigenous defense.
The US Fox News reported on the 10th that the Indian arms import ban is mainly in response to the “Made in India” slogan put forward by the Modi government. The plan is to stop importing domestically produced weapons within the next five years, covering transport aircraft, artillery, and wheels. Type armored vehicles, light combat helicopters, radar systems, simulators, assault rifles and warships. But it is not easy to achieve this. The Indian army’s weapons and equipment rely heavily on imports. During the Cold War, it relied on the Soviet Union, and now it imports weapons from Russia, the United States, and France at the same time. This year it has just purchased 3 billion US dollars in weapons and equipment from the United States. The Stockholm Peace Research Institute in Sweden reported in April that India is the world’s third largest importer of weapons.
India’s “Financial Express” said on the 10th that the Indian government has coined the slogan “self-reliant defense” many times, but it remains to be seen how successful it can be this time. “In the past few decades, although India has made some progress in military, space and other fields, these limited achievements have been isolated, and the overall domestic technological level has not achieved significant growth.” Amit Kaushish, a former procurement Financial Adviser to the Indian Ministry of Defense, said that India’s uneven achievements in nuclear weapons, space, missiles, etc., are scattered in various technical fields, and they do not help significantly improve the country’s overall military capabilities.
According to reports, at present, India’s main institution in charge of autonomous defense — the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has 52 technology laboratories, about 5,000 scientists and engineers, and 25,000 staff. It has adopted an accountability system to attract private companies. Enterprises participate in reforms such as joint development of weapon systems with overseas countries, but “the organization has so far not been of high value to the Indian military.” India has 41 state-owned ordnance factories and more than 100,000 employees. However, senior Indian military officials said that Indian military industry companies have failed to meet the military’s combat requirements on and off the battlefield, causing the Indian army to rely on imported weapons. Many Indian Ministry of Defense and industry officials believe that the recent ban on imported weapons and equipment is not only a waste of time, but also has little effect on improving the efficiency of Indian domestic military enterprises.
Today, India cannot even produce light weapons such as assault rifles, sniper rifles, and sub-machine guns used in high altitude areas, all of which need to be imported. In December last year, an Indian military representative confirmed to the Parliament that when performing missions in alpine regions such as the Siachen Glacier and the Himalayas, about 80% of the special cold-proof clothing of Indian soldiers still relies on imports. The Indian army tried to purchase cold-proof clothing from within the country, but Indian companies could not meet the military’s “acceptable standards”.
India’s “Defense Air Mail” also poured cold water on the Indian Ministry of Defense claim on the 10th. According to reports, the Indian Air Force is currently experiencing the most difficult period, with more aircraft waiting to be retired than new aircraft that can be pressed into service. The Indian Air Force theoretically has 42 squadrons, but currently only 28 are actually available. It is conceivable that if the Indian army really stops importing foreign military aircraft for the next five years, local (Indian) aviation companies will not be able to provide the fighters required for the 14 squadrons to be. An anonymous military expert told the Huan Qiu Shi Bao on the 10th that the indigenisation of the defense industry requires scientific planning guidance, orderly organization and coordination, long-term technological research and development, and a comprehensive industrial system. The Indian Army has long relied on imported weapons. There are many gaps that need to be filled by the national defense management departments and military industrial enterprises. One cannot be optimistic of achieving self-sufficiency in most weapons within five years.