Weapons Acquisition in the Soviet Union, United States, and France.

by Arthur J. Alexander

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Analysis focuses on the R&D phase of military aircraft acquisition in three dissimilar countries. The critical R&D organizations are the design bureau in the Soviet Union, the government in the United States, and the firm of Dassault in France. Dassault and Soviet design practices have many similarities: small design teams; prototype development strategy; high-level technical review committees; austere, rapid design-prototype construction phase; flight test prior to production decision; incremental development strategy; simple designs; briefly stated requirements; and concentration on design and development rather than on production. Constrained by handbook-dictated technology, limited manpower, and tight deadlines, the internally autonomous Soviet design bureaus are efficient and successful, producing militarily competitive designs that are developed quickly and cost-effectively. In the United States, the demand for high performance spawns large programs that invite regulation, undue client participation, inflexibility, and spiraling costs. Budget stringency and price constraints may counter powerful forces arising from American political system and culture that limit attainable efficiency. 33 pp. Bibliog.

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