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India Boosts Its Defense Capabilities

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India is one of the largest and most developed countries in the world, moreover India is trying to capture leadership in Asia geopolitics. Any large state tries to develop in different directions and industries, one of the promising industries, without the development of which it is difficult to imagine a state claiming to be a major geopolitical actor is the military-industrial complex. India is no exception, India because of the constant conflict with Pakistan, has always developed its armed forces and cared about the availability of various weapons in its army. However, a special importance in the development of India’s military-industrial complex appeared in the last few years. The full-scale war in Ukraine, after the beginning of which many states thought about the importance of developing their own military-industrial complex, and cooperation with Russia in this area became more difficult for India.

Obviously, New Delhi has also set a course for the development of this industry, as evidenced by the increase in defense production. India’s defense production in 2023 exceeded $12 billion for the first time (thus increasing by 12% compared to 2022).[1] Also, the number of licenses issued to private companies for defense production has almost tripled. At the same time, India is doing its best to reduce the impact from China, the Indian government has issued a ban on the use of Chinese elements in domestically produced unmanned systems.[2]

In addition, India is beginning to actively purchase weapons in large quantities. Orders worth $8 million will go to local defense startup companies. In addition, this order demonstrates the success of the “Make in India” policy program aimed at supporting local manufacturing.[3] Currently, the Indian Army has about a thousand unmanned systems in service for various purposes, manufactured by India’s HAL and DRDO. The new drones should improve the border forces’ ability to patrol the land border with the PRC. In July 2023, India’s Ministry of Defense announced orders for 97 drones. They will be received by the country’s land forces and navy. The Indian Ministry of Defense also authorized the purchase of 26 Rafale fighter jets for its navy and three Scorpene-class submarines.

In addition, India is also developing its own military production. In January 2024, India tested a new air defense system called AKASH-NG. The AKASH-NG air defense missile system successfully launched a missile and destroyed a high-speed unmanned target off the Odisha coast.[4] These tests confirmed the system’s full readiness to intercept various airborne objects that could threaten ground units. The new system is designed to be used by the Indian Air Force for airfield defense. Successful tests will allow DRDO to continue development and bring the system to serial production.

A new UAS was also announced, India unveiled a new 155mm MGS artillery system based on the chassis of a HMV military truck, it is armed with a 155mm ATAGS cannon. The artillery system is designed to operate in desert, mountainous and high altitude terrain. The new mobile artillery system MGS (Mounted Gun System) is entirely developed in India.[5] This UAS was created in the context of the Indian conglomerate Kalyani Group’s statement that the country plans to build the world’s largest production of artillery systems.[6] India is also currently testing new models of tanks, stealth fighters, anti-ship missiles, and UAVs. India is also undergoing large-scale purchases of short-range ballistic missiles, radar tracking aircraft, ATGMs, MANPADS, grenade launchers, tanks, helicopters, and small arms from domestic companies for the Indian Armed Forces.

Two major developments in India’s defense industry over the past few years should not be overlooked. In December 2022, India tested an Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear payload.[7] It was stated that the three-stage missile was capable of hitting targets up to 5,400 kilometers away with high accuracy. In total, five modifications of Agni series ballistic missiles with target engagement ranges ranging from 700 km to 5000+ km are considered to be the backbone of India’s three-tier deterrence strategy. This strategy includes the capability to use nuclear weapons from air, land and sea-based platforms.

An equally important event of the same year is the commissioning of the aircraft carrier Vikrant [8]. “Vikrant” is designed according to the STOBAR (short takeoff but arrested recovery) scheme. The length of the ship is 262 meters, maximum width – 62 meters. The range is about 7500 nautical miles at a speed of 18 knots. The aircraft carrier is armed with four AK-630 six-barrel launchers and equipped with Barak-8 anti-aircraft missiles. The deck-mounted air wing can include about 30 aircraft. This event is important first of all because India has become one of the few countries capable of building aircraft carriers of this class, earlier only 5 countries (USA, UK, France, Russia and China) could do it.

India is also increasing its independence in the field of components for equipment; previously, Russia was the main partner in military-technical cooperation. However, with the outbreak of a full-scale war in Ukraine, New Delhi and Moscow faced a problem. Russia needs to spend more and more resources on its domestic needs, due to which its export capabilities have declined significantly. On November 21, 2023, the Indian Army issued a tender for work to upgrade its fleet of T-72 tanks. It is noted that the Indian military wants to order a major overhaul, which should ensure that the tanks are “restored to near-new condition” and to a state of full combat readiness.[9] This process is being handled by AVNL, an Indian defense company that previously claimed to be capable of independently maintaining engines for Soviet and Russian tanks.[10] The plans for 2024 include full import substitution, using only its own units and components in servicing the T-72 and T-90.

At the same time, India seeks to develop military-technical cooperation with other countries, especially with Western countries, all this happens in the context of a multi-vector foreign policy and tense relations with China. An example of this is the information that India will produce Stryker armored vehicles jointly with the United States.[11] India needs thousands of such vehicles, most of which are to be armed with anti-tank missile systems and equipped with battlefield surveillance or command vehicles. There was also information that India plans to buy 31 MQ-9B SeaGuardian UAVs from the United States as part of a program to modernize the country’s armed forces.[12] France’s Safran and India’s HAL are also setting up a joint venture to produce helicopter engines.[13] The new facility will be located in the Indian city of Bangalore. And the Swedish company Saab has received permission from Indian authorities to start production of the Carl-Gustaf anti-tank grenade launcher.[14]

Don`t forget the German-Indian agreement to build diesel submarines at Indian facilities. The naval division of Thyssenkrupp AG and the Indian company Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited are jointly participating in a tender for the construction of six submarines for the Indian Navy at a cost of about 5.2 billion dollars.[15] The Indian Navy already has Type 209 boats in service, which were manufactured at Thyssenkrupp AG facilities. An important fact of such cooperation is that it is not just import of foreign weapons, it is all arrangements for joint production or production under license in India. This is important primarily because it will create more jobs in India, increase interaction between different sectors of the Indian economy.

Such steps will allow India not only to establish relations with the above states, modernize and increase the arsenal of its armed forces, but also positively affect the economy and scientific and technological development of the state.

However, it is worth noting that India is not only seeking to improve its defense capabilities, but also to occupy an important place in the arms export market. For example, Nigeria, the Philippines and Argentina are planning to buy Indian HAL Tejas fighter jets.[16] There are also new willing buyers of Indian BrahMos missiles, this time Vietnam.[17] Earlier, the Philippines and Indonesia signed a purchase agreement. India is also increasing its exports of air defense systems; Egypt plans to purchase the Akash medium-range surface-to-air missile system from India as part of a program to purchase mobile air defense systems.[18] Earlier, a contract for the purchase of these air defense systems has already been signed with Armenia.[19] Negotiations are also underway to supply arms and ammunition from India to Armenia, with the contract amounting to $224.7 million.

To summarize, India is beginning to actively develop its defense industry, improve the combat effectiveness of its army, improve military-technical cooperation with partners, and try to take an important place in the arms export market.


[1] “India says defence production exceeds $12 billion for first time”, Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/world/india/india-says-defence-production-exceeds-12-billion-first-time-2023-05-19/, (Date of Accession: 19.05.2023).

[2] “Exclusive: India bars makers of military drones from using Chinese parts”, Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/india-bars-makers-military-drones-using-chinese-parts-2023-08-08/, (Date of Accession: 08.09.2023).

[3] “Emergency Purchase Powers: Indian Army to Buy Weapons Worth Rs 7,300 CR to Counter China”, SSBCrackExams, https://ssbcrackexams.com/indian-army-to-buy-weapons-to-counter-china/, (Date of Accession: 17.08.2023).

[4] DRDO, X, https://twitter.com/DRDO_India/status/1745719834921304334, (Date of Accession: 12.01.2024).

[5] Vayu Aerospace Review, X, https://twitter.com/ReviewVayu/status/1583342318483955712, (Date of Accession: 21.10.2023).

[6] “Kalyani Group eyes world’s largest artillery manufacturing facility in India”, The Hindu, https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/companies/kalyani-group-eyes-worlds-largest-artillery-manufacturing-facility-in-india/article66027629.ece, (Date of Accession: 18.10.2022).

[7] “India test fires Agni-V, ballistic missile with a range of over 5,000 km”, The Indian Express, https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/india-test-fires-agni-v-ballistic-missile-8326983/, (Date of Accession: 16.12.2022).

[8] Ministry of Defence, https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1856230, (Date of Accession: 02.09.2022).

[9] “Indian Army issues RFI to restore T-72 tanks”, Janes, https://www.janes.com/defence-news/defence/latest/indian-army-issues-rfi-to-restore-t-72-tanks, (Date of Accession: 22.11.2023).

[10] “War in Ukraine speeds up indigenisation of T-90 tanks”, Times of India, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/war-in-ukraine-speeds-up-indigenisation-of-t-90-tanks/articleshow/103918345.cms, (Date of Accession: 25.09.2023).

[11] “US and India to Co-Produce Armored Vehicles to Counter China”, Bloomberg, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-11-10/us-and-india-to-co-produce-armored-vehicles-to-counter-china, (Date of Accession: 10.10.2023).

[12] “India approves procurement of U.S. MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones”, Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/business/aerospace-defense/india-approves-procurement-us-mq-9b-seaguardian-drones-sources-2023-06-15/, (Date of Accession: 15.07.2023).

[13] “Safran et HAL vont créer une coentreprise pour concevoir et produire en Inde des moteurs d’hélicoptère de nouvelle generation”, Safran, https://www.safran-group.com/fr/espace-presse/safran-hal-vont-creer-coentreprise-concevoir-produire-inde-moteurs-helicoptere-nouvelle-generation-2023-07-14, (Date of Accession: 14.07.2023).

[14] “Saab approved for 100% ownership of Carl-Gustaf manufacturing facility in India”, Saab, https://www.saab.com/newsroom/press-releases/2023/saab-approved-for-100-ownership-of-carl-gustaf-manufacturing-facility-in-india, (Date of Accession: 09.11.2023).

[15] “Germany Nears $5.2 Billion Deal to Build Submarines in India”, Bloomberg, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-06-06/germany-may-build-subs-in-india-as-russian-weapons-supply-slows, (Date of Accession: 06.06.2023).

[16] “Nigeria, Philippines, Argentina showing interest in procuring Tejas jets: HAL chief”, The Economic Times, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/nigeria-philippines-argentina-showing-interest-in-procuring-tejas-jets-hal-chief/articleshow/105808333.cms?from=mdr, (Date of Accession: 07.12.2023).

[17] “BrahMos: India Begins Official Negotiations With Vietnam Over Indo-Russian Missiles; Talks With Indonesia End”, Eurasia Times, https://www.eurasiantimes.com/brahmos-india-vietnam-officially-negotiate-over-indo/amp/?amp, (Date of Accession: 13.06.2023).

[18] “Egypt Considers Indian Akash Medium-Range SAM”, TurDef, https://www.turdef.com/article/egypt-considers-indian-akash-medium-range-sam, (Date of Accession: 14.01.2024).

[19] “India considers sending Armenia more weapons”, Тhe Economic Times, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/india-considers-sending-armenia-more-weapons/articleshow/104707633.cms, (Date of Accession: 26.10.2023).

Nikita MARIANENKO
Nikita MARIANENKO
Nikita Marianenko, Kiev Ulusal Üniversitesi'nden "Uluslararası İlişkiler, Kamu İletişimi ve Bölgesel Çalışmalar" alanında lisans derecesiyle mezun oldu. Ukrayna Dışişleri Bakanlığı'nda staj yaptı. Şu anda Kiev Ulusal Üniversitesi'nde "Uluslararası İlişkiler, Kamu İletişimi ve Bölgesel Çalışmalar" alanında yüksek lisans eğitimi almaktadır. Ukraynaca, Rusça, İngilizce ve Arapça bilmektedir. Başlıca ilgi alanları: Asya, Afrika ve Okyanusya bölgeleri, ekonomik işbirliği, askeri-teknik işbirliği, bölgesel güvenlik ve uluslararası örgütlerdir.