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Soviet Union Table of Contents

Soviet Union

Military Industries and Production

The integration of the party, government, and military in the Soviet Union has been most evident in the area of defense-related industrial production. The Defense Council made decisions on the development and production of major weapons systems. The Defense Industry Department of the Central Committee supervised all military industries as the executive agent of the Defense Council. Within the government, the deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers headed the Military Industrial Commission. The Military Industrial Commission coordinated the activities of many industrial ministries, state committees, research and development organizations, and factories and enterprises that designed and produced arms and equipment for the armed forces.

The State Planning Committee (gosudarstvennyi planovyi komitet- -see Gosplan) had an important role in directing necessary supplies and resources to military industries. The main staff and deputy commander in chief for armaments of each armed service first determined their "tactical-technical" requirements for weapons and equipment and forwarded them to the General Staff, which evaluated and altered them to conform to overall strategic and operational plans. Then the deputy minister of defense for armaments transmitted the General Staff's decisions to industrial ministries engaged in military production. He controlled several thousand senior military officers who represented the military within the industrial ministries. These military representatives supervised the entire process of military production from design through final assembly. They inspected, and had the authority to reject, all output not meeting the military's specifications and quality control standards.

In 1989 the defense industry consisted of a number of industrial ministries subordinate to the Council of Ministers. The names of most of these ministries did not indicate the types of weapons or military equipment they produced. The Ministry of Medium Machine Building manufactured nuclear warheads. The Ministry of General Machine Building produced ballistic missiles (see fig. 33); Machine Building and Metal Working , ch. 12). Other ministries, such as the Ministry of Automotive and Agricultural Machine Building, also produced military equipment and components, but to a lesser extent of their total output.

These defense industrial ministries operated 150 major arms assembly plants in addition to the more than 1,000 factories that produced components for military equipment. Each ministry had a central design office and several design bureaus attached to it. The design bureaus, named for the chief designers who headed them in the past, built competing prototypes of weapons based on the military's specifications. The central design office then selected the best design and, if the military approved it, began serial production. The aircraft design bureaus were best known because Soviet aircraft carry their designations. The Mikoian-Gurevich (MiG) and Sukhoi (Su) bureaus designed fighters; the Antonov (An), Iliushin (Il), and Tupolev (Tu) bureaus developed transport and bomber aircraft. The Mil (Mi) and Kamov (Ka) bureaus designed helicopters.

The high priority given to military production has traditionally enabled military-industrial enterprises to commandeer the best managers, labor, and materials from civilian plants. In the late 1980s, however, Gorbachev transferred some leading defense industry officials to the civilian sector of the economy in an effort to make it as efficient as its military counterpart.

Data as of May 1989