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India releases list of weapons banned from importation

Anti-ship missile launched by Indian Navy Missile Corvette INS Prabal. (Indian Navy/Released)
June 04, 2021

In an effort to move towards defense indigenization, India on Monday blocked the importation of an additional 108 military weapons and systems, including next-generation corvettes, airborne early warning systems, tank engines, and radars under a staggered timeline of four-and-half years.

The restrictions will progressively go into effect from December 2021 to December 2025, officials said.

Describing it as the “second positive indigenization list,” the defense ministry said it was notified after receiving approval from Defense Minister Rajnath Singh.

“The second positive indigenization list comprises complex systems, sensors, simulator, weapons and ammunitions like Helicopters, next-generation corvettes, airborne early warning and control systems, tank engines, medium power radar for mountains, MRSAM weapon systems and many more such items to fulfill the requirements of Indian armed forces,” it said.

According to a government document, the import restrictions on 49 items – including next-generation corvette, some variants of single-engine helicopters, wheeled armored platform, border surveillance system, and an armored engineer vehicle – will go into effect in December 2021.

The embargo on another 21 items will be applicable beginning December 2022 and will include items such as the 80 MM Tandem Warhead Rocket, software-defined radio, mechanical minefield marking equipment (land-based), and pontoon mid-stream bridging system.

A separate list of 17 items, such as mountain weapon locating radar, smart anti airfield weapon (SAAW) Mk-I, and loitering munitions, have been identified for import restrictions beginning December 2023, while the ban on another 13 items will be applicable beginning December 2024.

According to the document, the import ban on eight other systems and weapons, including anti-material rifle(AMR) 14.5 MM 1000HP engine for T-72 tanks, will go into effect starting in December 2025.

Officials said a second list has been prepared by the defense ministry after numerous rounds of discussions with state-owned and private defense manufacturing firms, as well as leading industry bodies like the Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM).

“The second positive indigenization list is another testament of the confidence placed by the government and the armed forces in the industry to deliver cutting-edge defense technology for India’s security requirements,” SIDM President Jayant D Patil said.

“The defense industry can gainfully utilize this golden opportunity to build robust research and development facilities, capacities, and capabilities to meet the futuristic requirements of the armed forces,” the ministry said, adding that the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and service headquarters will take all necessary steps to ensure that the timelines mentioned in the new list are met.

On August 9, 2020, Singh announced that India will halt the import of 101 weapons and military platforms, including transport aircraft, light combat helicopters, conventional submarines, cruise missiles, and sonar systems by 2024.

India is one of the most lucrative markets for global defense giants and has been one of the world’s top importers of weapons. According to estimates, the Indian armed forces are projected to spend around $130 billion in capital procurement.