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Efforts to Increase India’s Military Capacity

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The Russia-Ukraine conflict has prompted many countries to reassess their defense spending and take steps prioritizing military expenditures. India, which announced an increase in defense production on May 19, 2023, has demonstrated that it is among the countries affected by this trend.

In its statement, the Indian Government highlighted that the country’s defense production has increased by more than 12% in the previous fiscal year, surpassing 1 trillion rupees (12 billion dollars) for the first time.[1] The government has also set a target of 25 billion US dollars for defense production by 2025, while attempting to reduce dependence on imports from countries like Russia.[2] These developments in defense activities hold significant importance in the global military equation.

It is known that India is a country dependent on Russia in the defense sector. Moscow is the most important supplier of weapons to New Delhi. It can be said that the military trade between Russia and India has been partially affected by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Delays in the delivery of Russian air defense systems serve as an example of this situation. Like many other countries that have increased their defense budgets and expenditures due to the war, India has also taken the path of making innovations in the defense sector. In the 2023-2024 budget, 13.18% of the total budget has been allocated to defense.[3]

Moreover, while India is engaged in critical exports, it is also striving to make significant strides in terms of production. Some of the largest defense production companies in the country include Bharat Earth Movers Ltd. (BEML), Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL), and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL).[4] Indeed, various steps are being taken to foster the development of the defense industry, which holds a significant position within the economic structure. Through the aforementioned companies, efforts are being made to enhance the existing military capacity and strengthen the defense sector as a whole.

According to the Global Fire Power 2023 data, India ranks among the top 5 military powers in the world.[5] It is known that India ranks third in terms of defense spending. The strategic regional competition with China and Pakistan necessitates India to maintain its military capabilities and capacities at high levels. Throughout 2022, New Delhi strengthened its military ties with regional partners, formed new collaborations, and conducted exercises in response to border tensions with China.

Yeni Delhi, within the scope of military relations, has conducted joint exercises with countries such as Australia, Bangladesh, France, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, involving the army, navy, and air force. Additionally, India actively participates in multilateral exercises such as RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific), MALABAR, and Samvedna. Some of the recent notable exercises include:[6]

  • Vostok 2022: India and Russia, Eastern Military District.
  • Gagan Shakti: Indian Army and Indian Air Force, Punjab.
  • JIMEX 2022: India and Japan, Bay of Bengal region.
  • Joint Sea Exercise: India and Nigeria, Gulf of Guinea.
  • Exercise Abhyas-01/22: India and the United States Coast Guard, Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
  • Vajra Prahar 2022: India and the United States, Prades.
  • VINBAKS 2022: India and Vietnam.
  • RIMPAC 2022: Multilateral exercise involving 26 countries.
  • VARUNA 2022: India and France.
  • AJEYA WARRIOR-2023: India-United Kingdom.
  • KazInd: India and Kazakhstan.
  • NATO Exercise.

It is known that alongside the development of military capabilities through bilateral and multilateral exercises, the New Delhi government has undertaken initiatives in the production sector. For example, until October 2022, a total of 595 Industrial Licenses were issued to 366 companies operating in the defense sector. Additionally, the Indian government has opened up the defense industry to private sector participation to boost domestic manufacturing. There has also been a significant increase in defense exports. The government has established two Defense Industrial Corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Furthermore, the New Delhi administration has approximately 194 defense technology startups that develop innovative technological solutions to support the country’s defense activities.[7]

DefExpo 2022, which is considered the largest defense exhibition held so far, has been a significant development indicating India’s defense industry as a critical sector for global-scale investments. In October 2022, India achieved a significant milestone by successfully testing a ballistic missile fired from INS Arihant, the country’s first indigenous nuclear-powered submarine. This test was seen as a crucial step in enhancing India’s strategic offensive capabilities.[8]  India has indeed emerged as a prominent player in nuclear developments. As the sixth country to possess nuclear-powered submarines armed with ballistic missiles, it has obtained a strategic position. India has been witnessed to increase its missile tests in this field as well. In 2022, New Delhi successfully conducted tests of Agni-V missiles, indicating its continuous efforts to enhance military capabilities and defense potential.

In summary, it can be said that the new security equation resulting from the Russia-Ukraine conflict has created an opportunity for India to innovate in the military-security sector. Many new developments, such as the reform initiatives aimed at making India a center for defense equipment and platform production, as announced by the Ministry of Defense in 2022, provide a basis for India to enhance its defense capabilities and military proficiency. Progress has been observed in various areas, ranging from increasing the defense budget to boosting production and advancing through joint exercises and new agreements and partnerships. Efforts to strengthen security ties with various countries are also evident.

However, it is important to note that these strategic advancements, which are seen as a national development and success, may also have implications in terms of regional security threat perceptions. The Russia-Ukraine conflict has created an atmosphere that intensifies the security dilemma.


[1] “India’s Defence Production Exceeds $12 Billion for the First Time”, The Economic Times, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/india-says-defence-production-exceeds-12-billion-for-first-time/articleshow/100348964.cms, (Date of Accession: 20.05.2023).

[2] “Defence Manufacturing Industry in India”, Ibef, https://www.ibef.org/industry/defence-manufacturing, (Date of Accession: 20.05.2023).

[3] “Stats IQ: India’s Military Strength”, Study IQ, https://www.studyiq.com/articles/stats-iq-indias-military-strength/, (Date of Accession: 20.05.2023).

[4] “Defence Manufacturing…”, a.g.m.

[5] “2023 India Military Strength”, Global Fire Power, https://www.globalfirepower.com/country-military-strength-detail.php?country_id=india, (Date of Accession: 20.05.2023).

[6] “Military Exercises of India, Participating Counties and Location”,  Study IQ, https://www.studyiq.com/articles/list-of-military-exercises-of-india/, (Date of Accession: 20.05.2023).

[7] “Defence Manufacturing…”, a.g.m.

[8] “India Enhanced Overall Military Capability in 2022”, The Economic Times, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/india-enhanced-overall-military-capability-in-2022/articleshow/96660090.cms, (Date of Accession: 20.05.2023).

Şeyma KIZILAY
Şeyma KIZILAY
Şeyma KIZILAY, 2016 yılında Erciyes Üniversitesi İktisadi ve İdari Bilimler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden mezun olmuştur. Yüksek lisans derecesini, 2019 yılında Kırşehir Ahi Evran Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda sunduğu ‘’Uluslararası İlişkilerde Ulus İnşası Bağlamında Irak Örneği” başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Doktora eğitimine Uludağ Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda devam eden Kızılay, tez aşamasındadır. Başlıca çalışma alanları; güvenlik, terörizm, Afganistan ve Pakistan’dır. Kızılay, iyi derecede İngilizce ve orta seviyede Arapça bilmektedir.