A massive surge in India’s weaponry exports has been an underrated positive story of the Narendra Modi government. From 1,521 crore in 2016-17 to 8,434.84 crore in 2020-21, India’s defense exports increased. In 2018-19, the number was Rs. 10,745 crore. Defense exports totaled Rs. 38,500.25 crore during the previous seven years. By 2025, the government has set an ambitious goal of exporting aerospace and defense items and services worth over 35,000 crores ($5 billion). Despite being second only to Saudi Arabia in terms of imports, India’s defense exports for the previous year were among the top 25 in the world.
After striving to get specialized weapon locating radars (WLRs) from the United States and Israel in the 1990s, India is now exporting them to Armenia in a $40 million agreement. According to the most recent Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) research, three Indian firms rank among the top 100 defense corporations in the world in 2020: Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Ordnance Factory Board, and Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL). “Their combined arms sales of $6.5 billion in 2020 were 1.7 percent higher than in 2019 and contributed for 1.2 percent of the top 100 total,” according to the study, which was issued last year in December.
Moreover, India is selling BrahMos cruise missiles to the Philippines, which were co-developed with Russia. The contract is expected to be signed on January 28 at the Philippines’ National Defense Department headquarters in Quezon City. This $375 Million dollar deal is a game-changer since India isn’t buying anything. Rather, India is selling high-end weapons produced in India to another country. This is likely one of the first times India has sold high-grade weapons, and the $374 million, 962 thousand dollar sale is a big step forward. It entails the purchase of two BrahMos missile launchers and a standard complement of missiles. Aakash air-defense missiles are being transferred to Vietnam as part of a similar agreement.
Defense exports are an important component of the government’s effort to achieve self-sufficiency in defense industry. Therefore, the government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has taken various steps to increase defense exports, including rescinding a section of the Special Chemicals, Organisms, Materials, Equipment, and Technologies (SCOMET) list that will allow for easier exports, opening an online portal for receiving and processing export authorization permission, and allowing the lawful export of parts and components of small arms and body armor for civil use after due consultation with the foreign ministry.
Last year, to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s clarion call for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat,’ the Union Ministry of Defense drafted a draught Defense Production and Export Promotion Policy 2020 in August as an overarching guiding document to provide a focused, structured, and significant thrust to the country’s defense production capabilities for self-reliance and exports.