India's military might is displayed during the 62nd Republic Day parade in New Delhi, India on Wednesday, January 26,2011. Republic Day marks the day in 1950 when the new constitution came in effect after India gained independence from Great Britain in 1947. UPI/Raj Patidar | License Photo
RAWALPINDI, Pakistan, March 18 (UPI) -- The Pakistani press is noting India's massive arms purchases over since 2006 and is calling for restraint.
Since 2006 India has emerged as the world's largest arms importer, buying 80 percent of its arsenal form the Russian Federation, the Nawa-e Waqt newspaper reported Thursday.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, since 2006 India has supplanted China as the world's top weapons importer, seeking through advanced weaponry systems purchases to provide a jump-start for its indigenous armaments industries as Delhi moves to modernize its armed forces to project Indian power.
According to a SIPRI report released this month, India purchased 9 percent of the global trade in "major conventional weapons" since 2006, ahead of China, South Korea and Pakistan, in 2009 spending about $37 billion on defense.
Nor is India's armaments purchasing program show signs of slowing. India is seeking to buy 126 advanced fighter aircraft in what will be one of the world's biggest fighter-jet purchases since 19916, according to the Indian Defense Ministry.
Among those competing for the fighter contract are France's Dassault Aviation SA, Chicago's Boeing Co., Maryland's Lockheed Martin Corp., Sweden's Saab AB, Russia's United Aircraft Corp. and European Aeronautic, Defense and Space Co.
India's defense perceptions are driven by Delhi's concerns not only with Pakistan, its traditional foe but increasingly China and its increasingly assertive policy and conduct, which includes Beijing's announced intention to increase its defense spending 12.7 percent in 2011 to $91.5 billion. As China and India share a contentious 2,220-mile Himalayan border where a war was fought in 1962, for India the situation on its northeastern frontier remains unresolved.
The SIPRI report observed, "With the exception of a handful of helicopters from France and Russia, no major conventional weapons were delivered to China in 2009, although transfers (including via licensed production) of engines for aircraft, ships and armored vehicles from Russia, Germany, Ukraine, France and the U.K. continue."
Unlike China, until India establishes a strong indigenous armaments industry, its short-term policy is to import advanced weaponry. In 2009, India imported $2.1 billion in armaments, up from $1.04 billion in 2005. India's current major foreign arms acquisitions include 82 Sukhoi-30MKI fighters and T-90 tanks from Russia along with an A-50/Phalcon Airborne Early Warning system developed by Israel.
As a result of deepening U.S.- Indian ties, the United States, India's sixth-biggest arms supplier, may well move to second position once India begins paying for a series of recent and ongoing acquisitions.