Soviet Union Table of Contents
The Soviet Union has taken an incremental approach to military research and development. The military has deployed early versions of weapons and equipment with limited capabilities and has gradually improved them. The same basic weapons system has usually been fielded over a period of years in several different variants. Arms designers have relied heavily on integrating components from earlier models into new systems in order to provide stability and compatibility in the production process. The armed forces have tended to favor weapons that were produced in mass quantities, were reliable, and were easy to use in combat over expensive, complex, and technologically superior armaments. Following this rule of simplicity, the Soviet Union has produced many outstanding and tactically innovative weapons. Nevertheless, it has had difficulties producing more sophisticated systems, such as large airframes, small nuclear reactors, and quiet submarine propellers. These problems have forced it to resort to technological espionage and to copying Western designs. The State Committee for Science and Technology has tasked KGB officers and other Soviet officials in Western countries to acquire the components or technologies needed to produce certain armaments.
Data as of May 1989