Modi to Change India’s ‘Defense Importer’ Status

Modi to Change India’s ‘Defense Importer’ StatusModi to Change India’s ‘Defense Importer’ Status

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed Wednesday to end the country’s status as the world’s number one defense importer, saying he wanted 70 percent of hardware to be manufactured domestically by the turn of the decade.

Speaking at the start of a major aviation industry conference, Modi said his government would favor domestic firms when awarding defense contracts as part of a larger push to boost India’s manufacturing sector, AFP reported.

“We have the reputation as the largest importer of defense equipment in the world,” the prime minister said. “That may be music to the ears of some. But this is one area where we would not like to be number one,” he added.

India’s government also cleared an $8 billion plan to build the country’s most advanced warships on Wednesday, according to defense sources, just months after ordering new submarines to close the gap with the Chinese navy in the Indian Ocean.

The Times of India said the government approved six nuclear-powered submarines for $8 billion.

Since taking over last year, Modi has signaled his resolve to build a strong military after years of neglect that military planners say has left India unable to fight a two-front war against China and Pakistan.

India’s navy has been rattled in recent months after Chinese submarines docked in Sri Lanka, just off its southern coast, underlining the growing reach of the Chinese navy after years of staying closer to its shores.