Casualty of War: Russia’s Arms Industry

 

One of the many casualties of Putin’s war in Ukraine will likely be Russia’s global arms industry, which was already in trouble both financially and reputationally.

The appeal of Russian gear to foreign markets has long been:

  1. Its low cost compared to western counterparts.
  2. Its unconcern over such messy details as the client’s human rights record or intended use for the weapons.
  3. Its under-the-table generosity to corrupt government officials and purchasing agents.

Unfortunately for Russia’s arms merchants, the war has made their job much more challenging for three key reasons:

  1. Sanctions. US law imposes sanctions on countries that buy arms from Russia. Many countries have been able to avoid CAATSA penalties by securing waivers through the State Department, but these were intended to be exceptional and transitory, and will now be much harder to get. Even before the war kicked off, Indonesia gave up on its quest for Russian fighters in favor of US and French models, due in large part to tightening CAATSA enforcement.
  2. Supply chains. Russia will have far fewer weapons to sell internationally if it needs them to fight its war. In this sense, the arms merchants gain a short-term boon while they’re meeting the increased domestic demand. However, you can’t sell abroad an artillery shell that’s otherwise employed raining death on Mariupol, so the longer the war drags on the more their international customers will be forced to find new suppliers.
  3. The poor performance of the Russian army has exposed it as a pretty hollow force. Sure, there are lots of other reasons Putin’s army has performed badly, but for Russia’s arms manufacturers this has been the marketing equivalent of the great Ford Pinto gas-tank debacle of the 1970s.

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  1. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    At the low level.  Rifle, pistols, etc.  Russian equipment will do the job cheaply.  But the Ukraine shows the weakness of their more sophisticated platforms.  Even worse.  Russian military advisors are taking a big hit on this.  The difference between Ukraine’s performance in 2014 and now is small unit training by NATO countries.  It seems the Russian doctrine will need some revision after this event.  

    • #1
  2. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    OTOH, they have now gotten ahold of many Stingers, Javelins, Switchblades, etc. They will be able to quickly adapt and improve their already formidable counterparts (e.g., the Kornet anti-tank missile that shocked the IDF in Lebanon) while developing defenses.

    Plus, any UA defense against high flying aircraft has ben due to former Soviet SAM systems. Thus, that’s a selling point for modern Russian SAM systems.

    Plus, there is the successful use of Russian cruise missiles.

    • #2
  3. MiMac Thatcher
    MiMac
    @MiMac

    ctlaw (View Comment):

    OTOH, they have now gotten ahold of many Stingers, Javelins, Switchblades, etc. They will be able to quickly adapt and improve their already formidable counterparts (e.g., the Kornet anti-tank missile that shocked the IDF in Lebanon) while developing defenses.

    Plus, any UA defense against high flying aircraft has ben due to former Soviet SAM systems. Thus, that’s a selling point for modern Russian SAM systems.

    Plus, there is the successful use of Russian cruise missiles.

    1) they are using Russia air defense against Russian planes & tactics- so a second rate opponent- second rate weapons can work in such an environment. Israeli’s have had little trouble vs Russian air defenses in Syria & Iran. Russia has no stealth and doesn’t employ aggressive SEAD tactics (suppression of enemy air defenses- no wild weasels etc). Russia is using the tactics similar to those of the UK in GulfWar 1 and they were inferior to the US tactics of 30 years ago.

    2) the cruise missile wasn’t Russian- it was a Ukrainian derivative of a Russian weapon. Good chance they added some Western know how to it.

    After the repeated poor showing by Arab armies equipped and trained in Soviet methods the Russians always claimed they sold them stripped down versions (“monkey models” was the typical term). Many have thought this typical propaganda b/c you do not want to admit your gear is lousy- hurts morale plus now you can market “upgrades” to your Arab customers to improve performance.

    • #3
  4. DrewInWisconsin, Oik! Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oik!
    @DrewInWisconsin

    I’m sure Raytheon will help them out.

    • #4
  5. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    The thing about buying arms from Russia is that once you’ve paid for them they generally deliver.  The Duma doesn’t vote on whether to complete the deal or not.  

    • #5
  6. Jailer Member
    Jailer
    @Jailer

    Zafar (View Comment):

    The thing about buying arms from Russia is that once you’ve paid for them they generally deliver. The Duma doesn’t vote on whether to complete the deal or not.

    Very true. It’s a very simple transaction. Another downside is that there are no guarantees, and when it breaks they get you on the repairs.

    • #6
  7. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Jailer (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    The thing about buying arms from Russia is that once you’ve paid for them they generally deliver. The Duma doesn’t vote on whether to complete the deal or not.

    Very true. It’s a very simple transaction. Another downside

    Actually it’s an upside for the buyer.

    is that there are no guarantees, and when it breaks they get you on the repairs.

    True for any supplier.  No?

    • #7
  8. Jailer Member
    Jailer
    @Jailer

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Jailer (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    The thing about buying arms from Russia is that once you’ve paid for them they generally deliver. The Duma doesn’t vote on whether to complete the deal or not.

    Very true. It’s a very simple transaction. Another downside

    Actually it’s an upside for the buyer.

    is that there are no guarantees, and when it breaks they get you on the repairs.

    True for any supplier. No?

    Yes and no. Built into the US’ higher costs is a LOT of follow-up support. We refer to it as the “total package”. The Russians drop off the gear and leave, but are happy to come back for more money.

    • #8
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