London: India became the largest arms importer in the world beating China which shares the second spot with South Korea followed by Pakistan. India last topped the list in 1992.

According to new data on ‘International Arms Transfers’ published on Monday by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India received nine per cent of the volume of international arms transfers during 2006–10, with Russian deliveries accounting for 82 per cent of Indian arms imports.

The four largest importers of conventional weapons in 2006–10 are located in Asia, the report said. The share of the four countries are-India (nine per cent), China (six per cent), South Korea (six per cent) and Pakistan (five per cent).

These countries have imported, and will continue to take delivery of a range of major conventional weapons, in particular combat aircraft and naval systems, the report said.

The report said India is expected to keep the top spot for the foreseeable future.

"Just from what they have already ordered, we know that in the coming few years India will be the top importer," said Siemon Wezeman of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme.

Wezeman said Indian imports of major conventional weapons are driven by a range of factors.

India has unveiled plans to buy 126 fighter jets, 200 helicopters and large amphibious landing ships. A proposal to acquire a submarine is also in the pipeline.

India's defence budget for 2011-12 has been fixed at Rs 1.5 trillion, a 40 per cent increase from two years before. It imports roughly 70 per cent of its arms.

“China dropped to second place as it continued to build up its domestic arms industry, something India has so far failed to do so,” Wezeman said.

(Agencies)