The US defence budget is about three times as large as China’s. China’s military spending was three times more than India in 2017. China percentage of GDP spent on defence was less than India’s.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) database, estimated that China’s military expenditure was USD 228 billion in 2017 while India spent 64 billion.
In 2017, India has spent 2.5% of its GDP in military, while China has spent 1.9% of the GDP in military. The government’s spending on military in India was 9.1% in 2017, China’s spending was 6.1%.
India has been close to or below military spending of Russia and Saudi Arabia and is also passing Germany and the UK. With 7-8% GDP growth and with talk about increasing towards 3% of GDP spending on the military. India will clearly be able to sustain a world number three military spending level. Each year will see India get a wider margin of spending over the fourth and fifth place military spending countries.
By 2025-2027, India will likely double its military spending to about $120-130 billion (in current dollars).
India’s weakness is that India has been dependent upon other countries like Russia for military technology. India needs to improve technology and manufacturing in most industries.
The ‘Military Balance 2018’ report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) estimates India overtook the UK as the fifth-largest defence spender in the world in 2017 at $52.5 billion, up from $51.1 billion in 2016.
Sustaining a military spending level that is double and then triple countries like UK, Germany and Russia will see a matching level of military modernization and power around 2030.
India’s navy wants to keep with the China and US move to drone submarines
China is developing giant, smart, cheap unmanned submarines. The sea robots use artificial intelligence to perform reconnaissance, mine placement and making self-destructive attacks. They are now undergoing testing at a facility in Guangdong province. They will become part of a network of manned and unmanned assets tracking rival submarines in the world’s oceans.
In 2017, the USA launched its first squadron of unmanned underwater vehicles, or drones, and contracted top defence firms to produce a new generation of such machines. It aims to enhance its combat potential, including in anti-submarine, mine clearance and even counter-underwater drone operations.
There could be a shift to manned mothership submarines that deploy swarms of drones. Drone swarms could overwhelm the enemy’s systems and sensors, and undermine the adversary’s submarines.
China’s plan to construct an “Underwater Great Wall” of seabed sensors only confirms India’s fears. The Chinese navy’s positioning of long-endurance drones, like the Qianlong III and Haiyan in the South China Sea, might be a precursor to the deployment of similar platforms in the eastern Indian Ocean.