Procurement: February 15, 2003

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Russia is shifting it's military procurement to put more emphasis on new conventional weapons. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, and the sharp drop in Russian military spending, most of it's procurement and R&D went into nuclear weapons and delivery systems. The logic was that it was cheaper to keep the nuclear forces operational than it was to do a lot for the much larger conventional forces. This is now shifting, and Russia has been very successful selling advanced conventional weapons to India and China (their two biggest customers.) In the late 1990s, many of Russia's veteran weapons R&D people fled the industry, for want of contracts and wages. But with over four billion dollars a year in foreign sales, the Russian arms industry is stabilizing and Russian R&D is again working to catch up with American weapons and equipment. It's unlikely that Russia will ever gain an edge on American equipment, but many nations, for political (the U.S. won't sell to them) or financial reasons, see Russian gear is as a  good deal. Moreover, China and India have some of the same problems in their arms industry as Russia. Corruption and poor quality control are worse in China and India than in Russia. But that provides a more attainable level of improvement. It would be nice to bring their arms manufacturing up to American standards, but these nations can more quickly learn from the Russians. It's also easier for India and China to build Russian weapons under license. Not just because Russian manufacturing technology is closer to what they've already got, but because Russia is more eager to allow licensed production of their weapons in India and China. 

 


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