UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Coordination of Arms Production

The Soviet Union claimed the right to play the leading role in the Warsaw Pact on the basis of its scientific, technical, and economic preponderance in the alliance. The Soviet Union also acknowledged its duty to cooperate with the NSWP countries by sharing military-technical information and developing their local defense industries. This cooperation, however, amounted to Soviet control over the supply of major weapons systems and was an important aspect of Soviet domination of the Warsaw Pact allies. Warsaw Pact military-technical cooperation prevents the NSWP countries from adopting autonomous policies or otherwise defying Soviet interests through a national defense capability based on domestic arms production. In discussions of the United States and NATO, the Soviets acknowledge that standardization and control of arms purchases were effective in increasing the influence of the leading member of an alliance over its smaller partners. In the same way, Soviet arms supplies to Eastern Europe made the NSWP military establishments more dependent on the Soviet Union. To deny its allies the military capability to successfully resist a Soviet invasion, the Soviet Union did not allow the NSWP countries to produce sufficient quantities or more than a few kinds of weapons for their national armies.

Romania was the only Warsaw Pact country that had escaped Soviet military-technical domination. In the late 1960s, Romania recognized the danger of depending on the Soviet Union as its sole source of military equipment and weapons. As a result, Romania initiated heavy domestic production of relatively low-technology infantry weapons and began to seek non-Soviet sources for more advanced armaments. Romania has produced British transport aircraft, Chinese fast-attack boats, and French helicopters under various coproduction and licensing arrangements. Romania also produced a fighter-bomber jointly with Yugoslavia. However, Romania still remained backward in its military technology because both the Soviet Union and Western countries were reluctant to transfer their most modern weapons to it. Each side must assume that any technology given to Romania could end up in enemy hands.

Apart from Romania, the Soviet Union benefited from the limited military production of its East European allies. It organized an efficient division of labor among the NSWP countries in this area. Czechoslovakia and East Germany, in particular, were heavily industrialized and probably surpassed the Soviet Union in their high-technology capabilities. The Northern Tier countries produced some Soviet heavy weapons, including older tanks, artillery, and infantry combat vehicles on license. However, the Soviet Union generally restricted its allies to the production of a relatively narrow range of military equipment, including small arms, munitions, communications, radar, optical, and other precision instruments and various components and parts for larger Soviet-designed weapons systems.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:45:01 ZULU