May 25, 2011:
Bulgaria is selling off the last of its communist era, state-owned defense companies. Many former communist nations have done this, in recognition of the fact that privately owned defense firms tend to be more competitive. During the communist era in Eastern Europe (1945-89), Russia (as the Soviet Union) forced all of its East European "allies" to buy, and build, Russian designed weapons. But after the collapse of all the communist states in the late 1980s, the market for those weapons largely disappeared. Many communist era defense firms in East Europe were not able to compete and were merged, broken up or got shut down. While Russia has re-nationalized its surviving communist era defense industries, China (still technically communist), with over two decades of market economy experience, has a vibrant mix of state and privately owned defense industries. Even the Chinese recognize that competition, even within China, produces better, and more competitive weapons.