Friday, November 30, 2018

Five Reasons Why Russia’s Military-Industrial Complex Can’t Catch up with America’s

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 29 – Many Russians, including Vladimir Putin, believe that the country’s military-industrial complex has some magic capacity to catch up and surpass its counterpart in the United States, Moscow analyst Dmitry Milin says; but there are five important reasons why that is not the case.

            First, unlike its Soviet predecessor, the Russian military-industrial complex is dependent on imports for almost everything.  Indeed, without purchases from abroad, Russia’s defense industry can’t produce anything except “perhaps” bullets (

            Second, Milin continues, “there are no magic technologies” which will make up for the failure of Russia to invest sufficiently in this sector to overcome its decay. For example, Dmitry Rogozin who heads Roskosmos says that in his area, “87 percent” of the basic equipment is outdated. Compensating for that will take all Moscow is spending and more.

            Third, for the Russian defense sector to become competitive without reliance on others, it will have to encourage innovation and risk-taking, something those in charge do not. Changing that culture to one like the Americans have will require not just money but a transformation of mentality. That is harder than even finding more money.

            Fourth, because of the enormous bureaucracy and corruption, even if Russia does put more money into this branch, it will find that the cost of producing any particular item will be four to eight times greater than is the case in China or the West.  That means that Moscow would have to spend four to eight times as much to get the same output, not a realistic possibility.

            And fifth, while the Russian political elite often announces new weapons systems, it has proved incapable of organizing things so that they are delivered in a timely manner.  “For example,” Milin says, three major systems, the SU-57, the Armata, and the S-500, were supposed to be ready in 2013. They aren’t ready yet.

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