India’s defence exports have scaled “unprecedented heights”, crossing over ₹21,000 crore for the first time in the history of independent India, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Monday. He said defence exports have reached ₹21,083 crore in financial year 2023-24, which is a “spectacular growth of 32.5 per cent over the previous fiscal...”

Although India is still the world’s largest arms importer, a strong push on Atmanirbharta in the last decade has brought the country to a position wherein over 100 private and public sector undertakings (PSUs) are now exporting defence equipment and systems to more than 85 countries.

Comparative data shared by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of two decades – from 2004-05 to 2013-14 and 2014-15 to 2023-24 – revealed that there has been a growth of 21 times in the defence exports. The total defence exports during 2004-05 to 2013-14 were ₹4,312 crore, which has gone up to ₹88,319 crore in the period from 2014-15 to 2023-24. The Ministry believes that this “remarkable growth has been achieved due to the policy reforms and ‘Ease of Doing Business’ initiatives brought in by the Government, in addition to the end-to-end digital solution provided to the Indian industries for promoting defence exports”.

Dornier Aircraft HAL DO-228

Dornier Aircraft HAL DO-228

Key export items

India’s main exports include Akash missile systems, Dornier 228 aircrafts, ALH helicopters, Brahmos supersonic missiles, patrol vessels, unmanned systems, radars, simulators, explosives, avionics, surveillance systems, bullet-proof jackets, armoured vehicles and body spare parts for aircrafts and copters . Among the major export destinations are Italy, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Russia, France, Nepal, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Israel, Egypt, UAE, Bhutan, Ethiopia, Guyana, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Poland, Spain, Chile, USA, Armenia and Brazil.

Besides these, India has also got queries from Nigeria and Argentina for its Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, and 155 mm Advanced Towed Artillery Guns (ATAGs). It’s also attracting maintenance and repair works, such as late last month, Larsen and Toubro got two ships of the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy at its shipbuilding facility at Kattupalli, near Chennai, for scheduled maintenance activities.

This was after L&T signed the master shipyard repair agreement (MSRA) with the US in July 2023 for maintenance of their naval vessels for next five years.  The MSRA with two PSUs — Mazagon Docks Ltd and Goa Shipyard Ltd — is also at an advanced stage, said sources.

Indian is simultaneously eyeing the defence market of South America, as it recently extended a Line of Credit (LOC) of $23.37 million to Guyana, allowing it to procure two Dornier 228 aircraft from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).

The South American country is also said to be in talks with India to acquire armoured vehicles, patrol vessels and radar systems.

“The increased defence exports are also an indication of coming of age of the Indian industry,” Rajinder Singh Bhatia, President of Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM) told businessline,

The MoD said the figures indicate that the defence exports have grown by 31 times in the last 10 years as compared to FY2013-14. “This growth is a reflection of global acceptability of Indian defence products and technologies,” the Ministry emphasised.