• 13 June 2024

India’s Defense Evolution: From Independence to Self-Reliance

Sep 12, 2023

The defense of India in 1947 was a challenging task due to the unstable and historic events surrounding India’s independence and the partition of the country into India and Pakistan. At the time of independence, the Indian armed forces were inherited from the British, and they underwent a partition along with the country.

India had a newly formed army, navy, and air force, which needed to be established and organized quickly. The progress of Indian defense since 1947 has been praiseworthy, because after centuries of colonisation India assumed full control of it’s destiny. It had to build almost every sector from the scratch.
India’s defense sector has undergone noteworthy and remarkable developments and transformations since gaining independence in 1947

The establishment of the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) in 1958 marked a significant step toward indigenous defense production and research.

 India conducted its first nuclear test in 1974, foretelling its entry into the group of nuclear-armed nations. India has continuously modernized its armed forces by acquiring advanced weaponry, equipment, and technology. This includes the acquisition of fighter jets, tanks, submarines, naval vessels, and missile systems.

Picture Credits – Indian Defense Review

Key Highlights

  1. 1948 – UK Spitfire and Tempest Fighter Aircraft:
    • India signed a deal with the UK for 240 Spitfire and 152 Tempest fighter aircraft.
    • This marked an early effort to strengthen India’s air defense capabilities post-independence.
  2. 1957 – Soviet Union MiG-21 Fighter Aircraft:
    • India inked a significant deal with the Soviet Union for 250 MiG-21 fighter aircraft.
    • This deal marked the beginning of a long-standing defense partnership with the Soviet Union.
  3. 1962 – French Dassault Mystère IV Fighter-Bombers:
    • India’s agreement with France included the purchase of 104 Dassault Mystère IV fighter-bombers.
    • These aircraft played crucial roles in the 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan.
  4. 1971 – Soviet Union INS Vikrant Aircraft Carrier:
    • India signed a deal with the Soviet Union for the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant.
    • The deal also included eight Kamov Ka-25 helicopters and four Tupolev Tu-142 maritime patrol aircraft.
  5. 1986 – French Mirage 2000 Fighter Aircraft:
    • India acquired 49 Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft in a deal with France.
    • These aircraft played a vital role in the Kargil War of 1999.
  6. 1996 – Russian INS Vikramaditya Aircraft Carrier:
    • India secured the INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier from Russia.
    • The deal also included 45 MiG-29K fighter aircraft and six Kamov Ka-31 helicopters.
  7. 2004 – Israeli Phalcon AEW&C Systems:
    • India’s agreement with Israel included three Phalcon airborne early warning and control systems mounted on IL-76 aircraft.
    • These systems enhanced India’s surveillance and early warning capabilities.
  8. 2008 – US Boeing P-8I Poseidon Aircraft:
    • India signed a deal with the United States for eight Boeing P-8I Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.
    • These aircraft were equipped with advanced sensors and weapons for maritime surveillance.
  9. 2016 – French Rafale Fighter Aircraft:
    • India acquired 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from France.
    • These aircraft are expected to bolster India’s air power and deterrence capabilities.
  10. 2020 – Russian S-400 Triumf Air Defense Systems:
    • India signed a significant deal with Russia for five S-400 Triumf air defense systems.
    • The S-400 is renowned for being one of the most advanced air defense systems globally.

Major Defence Agreements of India

One of the primary objectives of India’s defense sector has been to reduce dependency on foreign arms and equipment. India signed several pacts with numerous countries in pursuance of this objective. Some of them are as follows:

  1. Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation (1971):  It provided India with military and diplomatic support during the conflict with Pakistan, which ultimately led to the creation of Bangladesh.
  2. Indo-Soviet Military Cooperation Agreement (1988): This agreement furthered military cooperation between India and the Soviet Union (Russia) by facilitating the sale of advanced weapons and military technology to India.
  3. Bilateral Defense Agreements: India has signed bilateral defense agreements with several countries, including Israel, the United Kingdom, Japan, and South Korea, to promote defense cooperation, joint military exercises, and the exchange of technology and expertise.

Notable Weapons and Systems

India has a defense industry that both imports and exports military technology, equipment, and hardware. The import and export of military technology in India are regulated by various government agencies, laws, and international agreements.

Here are some notable weapons and systems that were in the Indian defense pipeline or had been recently introduced as of that time:

Su-30MKI Fighter Aircraft:

  • A long-range, multi-role fighter aircraft customized to Indian specifications.
  • Equipped with advanced avionics and weaponry, it forms the backbone of the Indian Air Force.

BrahMos Missile:

  • A supersonic cruise missile jointly developed with Russia.
  • Employed by the Indian Navy and Army as a versatile long-range standoff weapon.

INS Chakra (Akula II Class SSN):

  • A nuclear-powered attack submarine leased from Russia.
  • Provides long-range underwater escort for Indian carriers and destroyers.

Phalcon AWACS:

  • An airborne early warning and control system featuring Israeli radar on a Russian Il-76 aircraft.
  • Offers unmatched radar coverage, tracking capabilities, and situational awareness.

INS Vikramaditya and Kolkata Class Destroyers:

  • INS Vikramaditya, India’s largest aircraft carrier, deploys MiG-29K fighters and helicopters.
  • Kolkata class destroyers are indigenous, equipped with advanced weaponry, including BrahMos missiles.

T-90S Bhishma Main Battle Tank:

  • Replacing older tank models, the T-90S is heavily upgraded and equipped with advanced systems.
  • Features Israeli, French, and Swedish subsystems, making it highly capable.

P-8I Neptune Maritime Patrol Aircraft:

  • Used for surveillance and anti-submarine warfare to protect India’s extensive coastline.
  • Features a powerful sensor suite, sonobuoys, and torpedoes.

NAMICA (Nag Missile Carrier):

  • A unique armored vehicle equipped with third-generation Nag anti-tank missiles.
  • Provides long-range anti-tank capabilities, including amphibious operations.

PAD/AAD Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) System:

  • A two-tiered missile defense system featuring PAD and AAD interceptors.
  • Designed to protect major cities from ballistic missile threats.

Pinaka MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System):

  • A versatile rocket launcher system used for long-range artillery attacks.
  • Equipped with advanced technology, including GPS guidance for precision strikes

India is one of the world’s largest importers of defense equipment, ranking as the second-largest importer globally after Saudi Arabia. This status was primarily driven by India’s efforts to modernize its armed forces and address security challenges in the region.


In conclusion, India’s armed forces have made significant advancements in bolstering their combat capabilities. With a range of powerful weapon systems, both indigenous and acquired, India is well-prepared to protect its national interests and respond to evolving security challenges. These developments reaffirm India’s position as a formidable military power in the region and highlight its commitment to modernizing its defense forces for a rapidly changing world.

Also, read https://thelogicalpie.com/from-dominance-to-defeat-the-struggles-of-the-indian-congress-party/politics/

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