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Five Russian torpedoes—including a 25/2-inch-diameter torpedo and two “short” torpedos—on board a torpedo retriever of the Russian Navy. These and virtually all other weapons of the former Soviet Union are for sale.
The defense industries of the former Soviet Union are making a hard sales pitch to the entire world: Virtually every military system developed by the Soviet Union—except nuclear weapons—appears to be for sale.
Worldwide economic problems have caused a 70% reduction in the global defense market,1 and because of the breakup of the Warsaw Pact, which relied primarily on Soviet- produced weapons and military equipment, the market for weapons produced by the former Soviet republics has contracted. Efforts by NATO nations as well as several Third World countries to sell weapons to keep their own factories open has led to a more intensive worldwide competition for weapon sales.
The Soviet Union led the world in arms exports in the 1980s, peaking in the mid-1980s at approximately $26 billion per year. Sales fell to about $6 or $7 billion in 1991, and Russian weapon sales were under $3 billion in 19927 In an effort to reverse this situation, there has been a more aggressive sales effort by the former Soviet republics, especially Russia and Ukraine. This situation has broadened the market place for weapon sales, an offered more advanced weapons, and revealed more information about weapons. Although international arms sales are declining, the Russian government hopes their more aggressive stature and the ability to enter Third World markets previously held by the West will increase sales. Today, arms exports are the principal source of hard- currency income for Russia.
Russia is the principal arms producer among the former Soviet republics, which has approximately 75% of the former Soviet Union’s military production capability; Ukraine has most of the remainder of that capability. However, a major complicating factor is that weapon systems (including ships and aircraft) produced in Russia use components from as many as 12 other republics.
Both Russia and Ukraine are attempting to exploit newly available markets, such as China, Malaysia, the Philippines, and the United Arab Emirates, while still trying to market traditional customer states. Arms and air shows have been a valuable marketing tool in this regard. For example, at the International Arms and Military Equipment Exhibition (INDEX-93) in Abu Dabi last February, the Russians “captured" the show with their Tochka-U missile system, Smerch multiple rocket launcher, Shturm-S antitank missile, T-80 tank, Msta-S self-propelled howitzer, and other weapons.
The S-300PMU-1 version of the SA-10 Grumble was the star of INDEX- 93. The antiair/missile system scored two for two in a live intercept exercise and according to Russian specification sheets, is dubbed the “Russian patriot.” It can simultaneously track 24 targets and engage incoming missiles at distances out to 60 miles and from altitudes of 82 feet up to 6,560 feet.
Oborona (Defense) 92, a weapon
demonstration held last October at tW formerly top-secret Emba test range f the Kazakhstan Steppes, also include1 live missile shoots. Air shows Moscow, Southeast Asia, and elsewhe^ include static weapon displays and ai( craft demonstration flights.
The Russians are also offering bo^ air-to-air and air-to-surfa^; missiles to potential buyer' resulting in the purchase 0 some 24 Su-27 Flanker fighk aircraft by China, the fiP major arms purchase by tN country from Russia since $ 1950s.3 China also bough Russian SA-10 antitacticJ ballistic missile systems e^ lier this year and is rumord1 to be negotiating for indig£' nous production of the ad vanced MiG-31 Foxhoui^ fighter and possibly a ne'1 long-range bomber aircraft3' well as another dot^ Flankers. Thus, China is aga'f becoming a principal puf chaser of Russian arms.
Turkey—a NATO met1' ber—signed a $75 millt0.11 order late last year for fflij1’ tary equipment from RussP including Mi-17 Hip helicopters, BTK 60P armored personnel carriers, night-v1' sion devices, and small arms, intended|0 be used primarily by police and secure forces against the outlawed PKK Kurdh1 Workers party. In this deal, $60 mill'011 of Russia’s debt to the Turkish Expo11' Import Bank will be canceled, and the <*' maining $15 million will be paid in Tud1 ish goods and services.
In another barter deal, Russia has o|' fered to provide 20 Mi-17 military he'1' copters to Thialand in partial payment f£lf a $65 million bill for rice purchases. S*fll ilar arms-for-agriculture products hav‘ , been negotiated by the Russians wd1 China, Malaysia, and the Philippines- Great Britain is considering the p11^ chase of a variant of the Russian Be--1' Mermaid, the large, jet-propelled fly1®
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°at> for the military search-and-rescue m>ssion. (Commercial variants of the aifcraft are also being offered for sale.)
Iran has taken delivery of a second new 'mo-class diesel attack submarine with a third to be delivered next year. The Rus- Slans may have sold wake-homing tor- Moes, with a range of some 12 miles, to ran for use with these submarines; the j3lrie torpedo has already been sold to . Ia-4 An improved Kilo, intended specif- ’cally for operations by Third World navies in tropical waters, has been devel- °Ped and is being aggressively marketed V the Rubin design bureau (No. 18) in • Petersburg (formerly Leningrad). Russia, with a new diesel-electric at- ck submarine already under design, will Plainly be a major competitor with Ur°pean shipyards for continued foreign ■’tthmarine sales. Although no foreign cus- 0rr|ers are predicted in the near term for Pr°curement of nuclear submarines, it is 'j'°rth noting that the Soviet Union was e only nation ever to transfer a nu- ear-propelled submarine to another nat*°n, a Charlie guided-missile subma- dae (SSGN), being leased by India from ^8 to 1991. The Indian government has nn°unced plans to develop nuclear sub- arines, probably with Russian assis- nce, while China, with a marginally suc- sstul nuclear submarine program, may s° turn to Russia for help.5 Although there was never a serious P°ssibility of the sale to China of the unwished carrier Varyag being built at the Maine's Nikolayev South shipyard, both Ussia and Ukraine have proposed car
t construction to the Chinese. The put' evskiy carrier design bureau in St. Pe- lW$burg (formerly design bureau No. 17) s hosted a Chinese delegation in an ef-
to design the first Chinese carrier.
''•lore likely for foreign sales are the Pety of smaller mine, missile, and pa- ^ Craft produced in prodigious numbers J! Russian shipyards. The Soviet de- °ytnent of the Harpoon-like SS-N-25 s1SsHe in the late 1980s makes the aHer Soviet missile craft particularly ^active to foreign customers.
^ U-S. firms are also seeking to purchase Ufan missiles. In the past, a number ^oviet weapon systems were acquired tio t*le ^n'tecl States for test and evalua- fn’ most were acquired clandestinely or >Arab:
states through Israeli military i ‘'ess, and their existence in the U.S. pfhl secret. But the U.S. Navy has purged a Soviet-built Tarantul I missile fir VettC lronl Germany, and several U.S.
are trying to obtain Russian mis- The Navy is seeking the procure- of SS-N-22 Sunburn antiship miss for the practice of defensive tactics,
Table 1: Arms Sales to Third World in 1992*
$13,600 million $3,800 million $2,400 million $1,300 million $700 million $600 million $400 million $300 million $200 million $100 million
*These data address only sales to Third World nations and not sales to NATO states or the former Soviet republics.
Source: Richard Grimmett, Conventional Arms Transfers to the Third World, 1985-1992 (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service, 20 July 1993).
while a private group is looking into the procurement of several types of Russian submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) for launching commercial payloads into space. The commercial potential of SLBMs was demonstrated by the Russian Navy on 9 December 1992 when an SS-N-6 (Russian RSM-25) missile was launched by a Yankee (Project 667A) submarine off the Kamchatka Peninsula; the “warhead” was a scientific experiment for producing an ultra-pure medical preparation in a weightless environment.7 The reentry vehicle made a “soft” landing at a predesignated location on Kamchatka.
On the other hand, the severe reductions of the armed forces of the former Soviet republics has led to cancellation or severe cutbacks of many weapon programs, including the Yak-141 Freestyle vertical/short take-off and landing aircraft, intended for the Kiev-class aircraft carriers. The production of tanks, armored personnel carriers, helicopters, and other military systems have dropped to a small fraction of their late Cold War levels, making it difficult for Russian and Ukraine factories to keep open production lines for limited foreign sales.
Still another problem for arms sales by the former Soviet republics has been the poor performance of Soviet weapons, especially air-defense systems, in the 1991 Gulf War. Russians tend to explain this with the throwaway comment that the weapons “were used by Arabs,” implying the Russian forces would have had better effectiveness against U.S. aircraft. But this is a two-sided issue: Weapons sold to Third World countries are intended to be maintained and used by local troops; also, the United States had nine months in which to prepare for the Gulf
War, enabling us to learn precisely what weapons the Iraqis had, where and how they were deployed, and to develop specific tactics to counter individual targets.
Efforts by the United States to halt or slow the proliferation of weapons have been difficult as U.S. arms manufacturers are working hard to find buyers for their own weapons. Few attempts to stop weapon sales have been successful; however, in July 1993, the Russian government submitted to intense U.S. pressure not to fulfill a contract with India for $350 million worth of sophisticated rocket engines and related technology. The American opposition was based on both Pakistan and India now having nuclear weapons but lacking efficient nuclear delivery systems. Some reports contend that much of the missile technology had already been transferred from Russian factories to India.
In return for a U.S. promise not to impose any sanctions on Russia, a two- day, around-the-clock negotiating session between Russian and U.S. representatives led to an agreement that the Moscow government will abide by the Missile Technology Control Regime of 1987 to deter the proliferation of missile technology. (As an added incentive, the U.S. government agreed to increased cooperation on space projects, which can aid the Russians in gaining commercial business for their space launch vehicles.)
The world will remain a dangerous place for U.S. military forces, the situation being exacerbated by the increased efforts by the former Soviet republics as well as NATO nations and Third World states to sell the most advanced weapons they can produce. From the former Soviet perspective, such foreign sales are vital if Russia and Ukraine are to maintain a major weapons design, development, and production capability in the coming years.
’RAdm. Edward D. Sheafer, Jr., USN, Director of Naval Intelligence, “Posture Statement" (Washington, D.C.: 3 May 1993), p. 11.
-Ibid., p. 12. Also briefing by William Grundman, Defense Intelligence Agency, to Joint Economic Committee, U.S. Congress, 12 June 1993.
’The Su-27K variant of the Flanker is a carrier-capable short take-off and landing (STOL) aircraft. It is one of the most maneuverable aircraft now flying. The MiG-31 is possibly the fastest combat aircraft in service with any air force.
JRAdm. Edward D. Sheafer, Jr., USN, at Naval and Maritime Correspondents Circle, Washington, D.C., 12 April 1993.
Tn the 1980s, both Great Britian and France offered to produce nuclear submarines for Canada.
6See N. Polmar, The Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1993), p. 206, for details of the Tarantul 1 acquisition and characteristics.
’Timofey Orekhov, “First Scientific Launch of a Ballistic Missile from a Nuclear-Powered Submarine,” Krasnaya Zvezda, 12 December 1992, p. 2.
eedings / September 1993