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This report evaluates free-electron laser (FEL) research and development in the Soviet Union and compares it with the corresponding activity in the United States. It draws on the open source Soviet and U.S. technical literature for the period from 1972 to April 1984, and focuses on the experimental programs. The author finds that Soviet FEL theory shows vigorous development stimulated by a large community of outstanding scientists potentially capable of significant advances in this field, which appears to be a major R&D objective in the Soviet Union. However, the corresponding experimental programs, at least as far as they are reflected in Soviet technical literature, do not seem to be commensurate either with the breadth and depth of Soviet theoretical effort, or with the U.S. experimental results.

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