Russia's Low-Tech in High-Tech Weapons

Investigators who examined the electronics in Russia’s newest cruise missiles and attack helicopters were surprised to find decades-old technology reused from earlier models.

NYT 9/4/2022

As Russian forces fire precision-guided weapons at military and civilian targets in Ukraine, officers in Ukraine’s security service working with private analysts have collected parts of the crashed missiles to unravel their enemy’s secrets.

The weapons are top of the line in the Russian arsenal. But they contained fairly low-tech components … including a unique but basic satellite navigation system that was also found in other captured munitions.

Those findings are detailed in a new report issued Saturday by Conflict Armament Research, an independent group based in Britain that identifies and tracks weapons and ammunition used in wars around the world. The research team examined the Russian matériel in July at the invitation of the Ukrainian government.

The report undercuts Moscow’s narrative of having a domestically rebuilt military that again rivals that of its Western adversaries.

Russia reuses the same electronic components across multiple weapons, including their newest cruise missiles and attack helicopters. Russian guided weapons are full of non-Russian technology and components, and most of the computer chips we documented were made by Western countries after 2014.

The investigators analyzed the remains of three types of Russian cruise missiles — including Moscow’s newest and most advanced model, the Kh-101 — and its newest guided rocket, the Tornado-S. All of them contained identical components marked SN-99 that on close inspection, the team said, proved to be satellite navigation receivers that are critical for the missiles’ operation.

Russia’s use of the same components pointed to bottlenecks in its supply chain and that restricting the supply of SN-99 components would slow Moscow’s ability to replenish its diminishing stockpile of guided weapons.……


Cut the supply of SN-99 components and Russia will suffer.


During the Cold War we had exchange students from Poland in graduate school. They said Iron Curtain countries then could get whatever they wanted from the West. There is always someone willing to supply for a price.

That Russian technology tends to be primitive is not new. The captured MIGs turned out to be mild steel rather than titanium. Making them heavy, less fuel efficient, and shorter range.

The report undercuts Moscow’s narrative of having a domestically rebuilt military that again rivals that of its Western adversaries.

I have never believed this because their military budget is not big enough.

The super sonic missiles are also in low supply and not nearly as good against us as we lead ourselves to believe. But they are something to build against.

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