Poseidons for the Indian navy

Buying arms from big trading partners is a good idea

From the geopolitical perspective, the Boeing P8I “Poseidons” that India has contracted to purchase are very good deal. India should ideally purchase military equipment from countries with whom it has broad and deep trading relationships. The current situation is quite the opposite: India has next to no non-military trade with Russia, and a little with Israel—the two largest military equipment suppliers. This gives them undue strategic and commercial leverage, which Russia has been exploiting to its advantage.

So India must deepen trade and investment with Russia and Israel. And buy arms from the United States, with whom it has wide-ranging economic ties.

Another reason for increasing the American share in India’s equipment mix is operational interoperability. India must develop the capability to interoperate with US and its allies as it will become necessary in a variety of future conflicts. This does not mean buying whatever is on offer—for instance, while augmenting amphibious capacity with landing ship tanks is a good idea, purchasing a huge aircraft carrier is not.

, , , , , ,

11 Responses to Poseidons for the Indian navy

  1. Shaan 8th January 2009 at 14:35 #

    India must build economic and political relationship with Israel. Israel could be more reliable than the US which wants good relationship with Pakistan.

  2. Sud 8th January 2009 at 17:26 #

    US hardware comes with a variety of restrictions that make them quite a bit unattractive. Recall the restrictions on the use of INS Jalashwa.

    Also, should a US admin come in that is not favorably inclined towards India and decide to choke supplies of critical upgrades/ spare parts etc in times of our dire need, what options would we have? After all, didn’t we laugh out loud when Paki F-16s remained undelivered after being paid for in full, then the delivery of spares and repairs for the existing ones got stopped, and so on?

    Besides, lets face it. Despite 123 and all that, US law imposes severe restrictions on trasnfer and trade of ‘sensitive’, purportedly ‘dual-use’ items with India – a list so wide and vast, it covers most high tech equipment needed for any hardware acquisition from them. Recall those Indian engineers who were charged in the US for attempting to ship microprocessors to India?

  3. Ajay 8th January 2009 at 20:52 #

    Using buying of arms as a strategic move is blunder. Arms purchase should be driven by quality and needs of the forces.

    Diplomacy is a long term give and take affair. The give should be in form of easier access to market, bilateral agreements for quicker path to investments in either country etc.

    Indian market for civilian goods and services will be one of the largest in the world. We should use it as a leverage in diplomacy.

  4. Venkat 8th January 2009 at 22:16 #

    From arms importer, when do we become arms exporter? I mean significant arms exporter?

    For the time being I agree we have to buy from the best, but in the medium to long term, we have to strengthen public sector companies as well give incentives to private companies to do military R&D and look for exporting in future.

  5. socal 9th January 2009 at 03:20 #

    There’s report in WSJ how even China is working on building its own aircraft carrier. It bought and studied four for reverse engineering purposes, too. That, to an extent, upends the case against purchasing of aircraft carriers, at least the one presented in the link above.

  6. Patel 9th January 2009 at 07:33 #

    American carriers travel the seas with no fear. This is not due to superior technology or well trained military personnel, but simply due to the consequences of successfully sinking one.

    What are the consequences of sinking an Indian carrier?

  7. Udayan 9th January 2009 at 16:38 #

    @Venkat,

    No particular glory in being an arms exporter. The best way to deploy national resources should be set by the free Market that will decide whether we can be an arms exporter or not. It is absurd to think that we will be better off by selling guns to Mugabe, than say, by selling ERP software services to Australia. Or vice versa.

    We should buy the best stuff out there. And make sure the seller can’t deny it. They can’t deny it if we are buying a lot of other stuff from them.

  8. Udayan 9th January 2009 at 16:39 #

    @Patel,

    Don’t cry over your chicken before it is killed. Stop running down your country dude.

  9. Nitin 9th January 2009 at 16:42 #

    Socal,

    On the contrary, if China buys carriers, we should buy Posiedons, anti-ship missiles, cruise missiles and submarines.

    It’s different from collecting stamps.

  10. Patel 10th January 2009 at 04:10 #

    @ Udayan,

    Its hard not to cry right now. This government has done nothing to protect its citizens. The upcoming elections will show if the people will do nothing to protect themselves.

    @Ajay

    “Using buying of arms as a strategic move is blunder. Arms purchase should be driven by quality and needs of the forces.” I disagree. India cannot yet arm twist countries for selling weapons to Pakistan. However, India can successfully arm twist companies for selling to Pakistan.

    And the offset should definitely stay. How can you envision yourself to one day be the 2nd or 3rd largest economy in the world, but rely on others for your defense?

  11. Cash 12th January 2009 at 09:40 #

    I must say that the article seems to discount the fact that trade comes only if manufacturing is done in India. In this rather than the US or Israel, Russia is much better placed as most of the current projects (at least appear to) with Russia involve joint development, Ownership and Manufacture of weapons platforms e.g. Brahmos, 4th generation fighter etc.
    So rather than also look at what might serve for today (high tech stuff obsolete by the end of the month) we would be better of in the long run if we look at what is better for tomorrow (experience gained, and ownership of weapons platform).
    Further in the current global scenario and our government policies most of the equipment (really expensive ones) is hardly going to be used except as deterrents while anti-personal weapons – guns, ammo, body armor would see more use.

More in Foreign Affairs (396 of 2003 articles)


The Pakistani government is tying itself in knots merely on account of the extremely trivial matter of having to accept ...