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Romania - Arms Production

In 1989 the Soviet Union still provided the majority of heavy arms and complex equipment in Romania's inventory. In the preceding two decades, however, Romania had made considerable progress toward building an independent domestic arms industry. At the PCR Central Committee plenum in April 1968, Ceausescu officially made development of a domestic arms industry a national priority. He recognized the inherent vulnerability in Romania's reliance on the Soviet Union, a potential adversary, as its principal arms supplier. Ceausescu claimed that Romania in 1985 was producing more than two-thirds of the weapons and military equipment essential for the country's defense.

At first Romania concentrated on developing its capabilities in low-technology areas, producing spare parts for, repairing, and modifying Soviet-made weapons and equipment for the ground forces. By the early 1980s, Romania had a large-scale program of naval construction and had reestablished its prewar aviation industry. It built minor surface combatants and fighter aircraft using its own designs and produced more complicated units under licensing arrangements with the Soviet Union and other countries. Several Western countries assisted Romanian arms production efforts as a reward for the country's adopting an independent stance within the Warsaw Pact. Besides contributing to its increased independence of the Soviet Union, domestic arms production also increased Romania's exports and became a source of hard currency.

Using Soviet designs provided under license, Romania produced a number of armored fighting vehicles for its ground forces. The TAB-72 was a modified version of the Soviet BTR-60 armored personnel carrier, and the TAB-77 was the counterpart of the Soviet BTR-70. The TAB-72 had an improved Romanian-designed turret, upgraded optical equipment and gun sights, and increased elevation angles for its 14.5mm and 7.62mm machine guns for use in an antiaircraft mode. It featured a better power-to-weight ratio than the BTR-60 and a greater road speed. One TAB-72 variant used a Soviet 82mm mortar in place of its turret. The TAB-77 had either a Romanian-made turret or mounted six Soviet AT-3/SAGGER antitank guided missiles. The TAB-C was essentially a domestic version of the Soviet BRDM-2 armored reconnaissance vehicle first built in the early 1960s.

The M-77 tank, also known by the designation TR-77, was the first produced in Romania since World War II. It mounted the turret and 100mm gun from the Soviet T-54/T-55 tank but had a Romaniandesigned six-roller track and suspension system for improved mobility over rugged terrain. Romania produced towed and truckmounted Soviet and Czechoslovak B-11, M-51, and BM-21 multiple rocket launchers, as well as DAC-443 light and DAC-665 medium military cargo trucks using a chassis design purchased from a firm in the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). These trucks were used as ground forces transports, communications and electronics vans, bridging equipment carriers, and mobile multiple rocket launcher platforms. Romania also manufactured all small arms, ammunition, munitions, mortars, grenade launchers, communications equipment, and some spare parts for more complex weapons used by its ground forces.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 03:05:24 ZULU