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Traces how Soviet institutions, constraints, incentives, and values influence the process of Soviet weapon design. Differences between U.S. and Soviet military capabilities do not arise from differences in resources, but from the processes and choices that determine how those resources are employed. Design of Soviet weapons can be summarized by the outstanding features: simplicity in equipment; common use of subsystems, components and parts; incremental growth; and limited performance and mission capabilities. On the whole Soviet weapon technology is less advanced than comparable U.S. weapon technology, yet there is considerable evidence that these shortcomings often do not result in lesser military value. Incremental change has become the hallmark of Soviet weapons acquisitions. This strategy has advantages that are valuable in the Soviet context, and can be expected to continue into the future.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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