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India to stop all ammunition imports – army official

New Delhi has been ramping up its capabilities to manufacture arms and ammo domestically while increasing exports

The Indian Army is planning to stop importing ammunition by next year as the domestic industry has ramped up its production capabilities to meet its requirements, a senior defense procurement official told the Economic Times.

The army, which has historically relied on imports, has found local sources for around 150 of the 175 types of ammunition it uses, the report said.

“In the next financial year, we will not have any import of ammunition. Other than in cases where the quantity is too low and it is not economical for the industry to manufacture them,” Major General VK Sharma, the Indian Army’s Additional Director General (Procurement), said. He added that the army is currently purchasing ammunition worth 60-80 billion rupees ($718-960 million) annually, all of which will now come from local sources. As of now, just 5-10% of the requirements are met by foreign suppliers, he said.

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New Delhi has over the last eight years filled its stocks of spare parts and ammunition under several rounds of emergency procurements. The Defense Ministry gave the military financial powers for these procurements following a terrorist attack in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir in 2016, airstrikes against Pakistan in 2019, and skirmishes with Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh in 2020, The Hindu reported last year.

According to the paper, the army has prepared a long-term road map to procure ammunition for the next ten years amid a continuing border standoff with China and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, since most of the Indian Army’s armored fleet is of Russian-origin. The plan aims to “minimize imports,” have multiple sources of supply, and possess “indigenous manufacturing capability.”

In March, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh warned that India cannot remain dependent on imports of military hardware, as this could be “fatal” for strategic autonomy. The country remains the world’s largest arms importer, accounting for 9.8% of total global imports from 2019 to 2023. Russia continues to be India’s main weapons supplier, accounting for 36% of imports.

READ MORE: Sword of Bharat: How India aims to conquer the global arms market

India’s rush to procure more locally-made ammo also comes amid a push to bolster defense exports, with a target of $5 billion annually by the financial year 2024-25. During the last fiscal year, exports of weapons systems reached an all-time high of 210 billion rupees ($2.5 billion), registering 32.5% growth, according to the military. The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, jointly developed by India and Russia, has emerged as one of the export items with the most potential. Last month, India delivered its first batch of BrahMos to the Philippines.

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May 09, 2024 at 02:59PM

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