In January 2018 Chief of the Army Staff Bipin Rawat said that the next war should be fought with “Made in India” weapons. The statement is significant because it indicates that the thinking is changing at Army HQ and that the generals are seeking homemade solutions. It is an acknowledgement that the country will remain hostage to external pressures as long as it is dependent on imports.
It also suggests that the government has told the forces to go for locally made weapons and not expect New Delhi to clear imports. The message is clear – fight with the weapons you have, not with the weapons you want. This will also curb corruption in the defence forces, where there is a growing belief that officers often kill indigenous programmes in order to get kickbacks from imports. Unfortunately, the cancellation of the multi-billion Spike missile deal with Israel, the slashing of the Rafale order and the government's unwillingness to pay top dollar to Russia for the S-400 have strengthened this view.
The Army Chief’s statement implies he is not expecting to go to war any time soon. For, if war breaks out today, a number of weapons will have to be replenished by imports. Let us examine the key platforms that will be deployed in the air, on land and at sea and find out the level of import dependence in each category, plus the rate of induction of Indian weapons and ho