Armor Development in the Soviet Union and the United States

by Arthur J. Alexander


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This historical, comparative study of armor development in two dissimilar countries traces the constancies of the R&D process through shifting institutions and environments. To develop a deeper understanding of the weapons acquisition process, the author examines several important relationships: (1) the interactions among development, doctrine, perceived threats, and economic and technological capabilities; (2) the dependence of the style of the development process on the rate of technological change and on the choice of what to produce; and (3) the effectiveness of alternative R&D strategies. Although product improvement of existing design has been the primary mode of increasing the value of tanks, the more than 50 years of armor development in both countries indicate that two other elements are also essential to an effective R&D strategy: (1) independent development of components and technology; and (2) construction and testing of experimental prototypes.

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