Akash missile will be India’s biggest military export, so far

$1.4 Billion was the export from India last year

IDD Insight

India has okayed the sale of its surface to air missile, Akash , to friendly foreign countries, making it the largest lethal weapon or platform to be exported from India.

Yes exported, that’s right.

India the world’s second largest importer of  weapons, military equipment and platforms, is also a small exporter and sends out its products to some 42 countries. See the full list here.  The goods include sea-going vessels like off-shore patrol vessels and maritime reconnaissance planes like the Dornier 228 besides small parts and sub assemblies. New Delhi aims to have a $ 5 billion export by 2025.

Sweden-based think-tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in its report in March 2020 ‘Trends in International Arms Transfers-2019’ listed how India, during the period April 2018 to March 31, 2019, exported 1.4 billion worth of equipment and has 0.2 percent share in global exports. New Delhi is 23rd on the global list of exporters. Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Mauritius being its top three clients.  Earlier this year the Indian Government had okayed the gift of a kilo-class Submarine to Myanmar. Read full report here.  

A screen shot of exporters

Why the Akash missile

A surface-to-air-missile with a 25 kms range and over 96 percent Indian content, the Akash was the most natural corollary to be exported. In the past several countries have asked for the BrahMos 300 kms range missile, but India has held back largely as Russia is a joint venture partner in the project. A sale to another country has to be okayed  by Moscow too.

Akash was inducted in 2014 in Indian Air Force and in 2015 in Indian Army, used in air defence roles.

After its induction in the Services, interest was shown in Akash missile by many friendly countries during International exhibitions.  The export version of Akash will be different from system currently deployed with Indian Armed Forces, said an Indian statement. Read it here.

“So far, Indian defence exports included parts or components. The export of big platforms was minimal. This initiative of the Cabinet would help the country to improve its defence products and make them globally competitive”.

Indian statement

Interest in other platforms

Besides Akash, there is interest in other major platforms like coastal surveillance system, radars and air platforms. To provide faster approvals for export of such platforms, a Committee comprising of Defence Minister, External Affairs Minister and National Security Advisor has been created.

This Committee would authorise subsequent exports of major indigenous platforms to various countries. The Committee would also explore various available options including the Government-to-Government route.

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