ISLAMABAD: Through a deep analysis of the so-called growing military might, a report in the Economist, exposes India's plaguing weaknesses, ranging from the obsolete war machines to the rampant corruption.
The report said India was not as strong militarily as the numbers might suggest.
Puzzlingly, given how its international ambitions are growing along with its economy, India has proved strangely unable to build serious military muscle.
"India's armed forces look good on paper. It fields the world's second-biggest standing army, after China. It has topped the list of global arms importers since 2010, sucking in a formidable array of top-of-the-line weaponry, including Russian warplanes, Israeli missiles, American transport aircraft and French submarines," the report said. "State-owned Indian firms churn out some gear, too. Yet there are serious chinks in India's armour. Much of its weaponry is, in fact, outdated or ill maintained."
"Our air defence is in a shocking state," says Ajai Shukla, a commentator on military affairs. "What's in place is mostly 1970s vintage, and it may take ten years to install the fancy new gear."
On paper, India's air force is the world's fourth largest, with around 2,000 aircraft in service. But an internal report seen in 2014 by IHS Jane's, a defence publication, revealed that only 60% were typically fit to fly.
A report earlier this year by Indian government accounting agency estimated that the "serviceability" of the 45 MiG 29K jets ranged between 16% and 38%.
India's air force has spent 16 years perusing fighter aircraft to replace ageing Soviet-era models. "By demanding over-ambitious specifications, bargain prices, hard-to-meet local-content quotas and so on, it has left foreign manufacturers "banging heads against the wall", in the words of one Indian military analyst.
Four years ago, France appeared to have clinched a deal to sell 126 of its Rafale fighters. The order has since been whittled to 36, but is at least about to be finalised.