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Subject: How important is it for a nation to manufacture it own weapons? rss

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Brian Korreck
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After reading the post about "The Goose" and finishing "The Japanese Imperial Army"; I wondered how important it was for a country to manufacture its own weapons? According to "TJIA,"following the Mejii Restoration, Japan thought they would always be a second rate power as long as their arms were being manufactured elsewhere. This occupied a part of their strategic thinking until WWII.

Is it that critical to make your own weapons?
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Zhe Leng
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Depends on who you may fight.

Also, if it is a rather minor weapon, then I don't think it will cause any significant trouble if you are going to fight the manufacturer.
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Andrew N
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I'd say, depending on your nations military goals, not that important (with conditions). As long as you have a reasonable technological/industrial base, you could always home manufacture weapons originally designed/built elsewhere. Also, unless they're particularly specialized or "world beating," they could always be replaced with a domestic product. Look at anti-aircraft guns. Bofors and Oerlikon provide probably the vast majority of non-Russian anti-aircraft guns (and have for a long time). They're from Sweden and Switzerland, respectively, and they're both traditionally neutral countries, so that has a lot to do with it. Neutral countries make good arms dealers, since they don't tend to choose sides.
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Jeremy Fridy
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Do you trust that your suppliers are not going to cut your supply (do to political squabbles or the like,) that your money is good to them, and that they can keep up with your orders when if a war breaks out (if they are fighting, they may keep them for themselves.)

Those are the main reasons I would see to want local manufacture, even at the risk of a higher cost.
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Michael Dorosh
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lengzhe wrote:
Depends on who you may fight.


Or how reliable your allies are.

Britain did very well in the Second World War with small numbers of Canadian-made Bren Guns and 25-pounders, and large numbers of American-built Sherman tanks.

The Soviet Union did fabulously with Studebaker trucks.

Predicting who your enemy is going to be in ten years is the hard part - and procurement cycles in peacetime are notoriously long.
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Jacob Ossar
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Courtknight wrote:
The side arm issued to officers tended to discharge when the gripes were pressed.


Folks, there's an important lesson in all of this. If you have gripes, try not to dwell on them and for goodness' sake don't press them.
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Ask the CSA - wait you can't - they barely made any of their own weapons, causing them to be vulnerable to blockade and the loss of their biggest trading partner, the USA.
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Lucius Cornelius
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God forbid the politicians make war to help out their weapons-manufacturing friends. whistle
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Jim F
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Probably not a bad idea for Israel. Just in case...
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Ben Delp
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There's also the jobs issue. Manufacturing your own weapons, systems and vehicles produces jobs and generates domestic private sector wealth. People like that. But when those weapons/systems/vehicles are no longer needed or wanted by the armed services, people don't like that. So much so that politicians will fight to keep unwanted military programs running to protect the jobs in their districts.
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Jeff Johnson
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delp1871 wrote:
So much so that politicians will fight to keep unwanted military programs running to protect the jobs in their districts.


It's almost like some sort of military industrial complex or something...! A military industrial congressional complex.
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Tim Korchnoi
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I would think it would be very important.
It can have a big impact especially if you are talking precision weapons vs. ones that are simpler in construction. Been reading Stahel's first two books on the Eastern Front and one of the problems that appeared was German weapons having trouble handling the conditions of the Eastern Front whereas Russian weapons were made to handle the harsh conditions, something that might not be considered if you outsource. Israel had a difficult time with spare parts in the Yom Kippur War and our supplying them with those spare parts led to our energy crisis. Neither country would've been in that position if Israel had had more of a home based manufacturing base.
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Seth Owen
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For most countries it's a non-issue, but if you have aspirations of being a major regional or global power then you'll have to develops some capability in the weapons field, even if it's just for repair and maintain.

It's often considered a sign of development to have the ability to build sophisticated weapons. While rifles and mortars are not very demanding to build, high performance aircraft and large naval vessels are still among the most technologically challenging machines there are and a demonstrated ability to make them signals a lot about the overall industrial prowess of the builder.

National pride also plays a role in this, as well as economic factors. Weapons are expensive anyway, but to the extent the money gets spent domestically instead of some foreign economy governments tend to like it.
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K G
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I think the next big war will make traditional weapons obsolete, for the most part. America will fall when the cable goes out.

(Cynical, aren't I?)
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Hunga Dunga
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delp1871 wrote:
Manufacturing your own weapons, systems and vehicles produces jobs and generates domestic private sector wealth.

But is it really the private sector, since almost 100% of their income is government funds?

I call them "champagne socialists".
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Bill Eldard
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Jeffr0 wrote:
delp1871 wrote:
So much so that politicians will fight to keep unwanted military programs running to protect the jobs in their districts.


It's almost like some sort of military industrial complex or something...! A military industrial congressional complex.


Yep. That's what we in the US are stuck with. And it will continue to invest in systems that are approaching obsolescence.
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John New
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Michael Dorosh wrote:

Britain did very well in the Second World War with small numbers of Canadian-made Bren Guns and 25-pounders, and large numbers of American-built Sherman tanks.


Actually, I believe the Bren was originally a Czech-made weapon, that was originally manufactured in the UK and Canada under license. Building weapons under license to a foreign manufacturer adds another factor; if you have the infrastructure to manufacture a license-built weapon (as, say Canada has done with various American fighter aircraft), and later you go to war with the licensor (as Canada has not done - yet), then you don't have to pay licensing fees - the UK was not paying fees to Hitler's annexed Czechoslovakia!

See Ferengi Rule of Acquisition #34
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Carl Fung
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There was a recent article (I forget where it was published, NY Times maybe?) that India was trying to be military equipment independent. it certainly has the capability and has produced some weapons systems itself, but still relies heavily on Russia (and others including the UK and the US) for its aircraft and other weapons systems.

To a opposite end, insurgent forces making their own weapons helps them sustain their struggle without outside assistance. The Vietcong were able to do this well and even to an extent the odd examples in Syria and Libya at least helps sustain their insurgency.

It's important, particularly for nations that have a lot of global influence. The major players already do so (US, Russia, UK, France, China, Germany, Israel). Nations like India and Brazil should start to ween off imported weapons. They certainly have the manufacturing strength. Pakistan could but I think they are still good chums with China.
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John New
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Kluvon wrote:
America will fall when the cable goes out.


Bah. America will not fall until I can no longer get ice cubes on demand (which is, of course, the hallmark and high achievement of Western Civilization).
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Les Marshall
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Depending on foreign manufacturers for weapons production is risky. Even if you are buying from an erstwhile ally, they can part company on any given conflict. Recall that France refused overflight rights to US bombers going for Tripoli. Many of our allies declined to participate in the post 9/11 invasion of Iraq. If they were also weapons suppliers, they could potentially impede our intentions further. A sluggish pipeline for arms and ammunition can be a significant strategic problem. While many countries do have a reasonable industrial base it can take some time to retool even for small arms.

In the modern era, this is compounded by advanced technology weapons. Though we (and the ex-Soviet empire) exported large numbers of high tech aircraft and missiles to client states, these "export" models generally contained sub par avionics and electronics so they couldn't compete heads up. Additionally, such complex machines require a robust supply chain for replacement parts that can render them obsolete overnight.

Moves by China, India and other regional powers to reach weapon source independance seems rather sensible in this light.
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Tom Swider
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Same for the UK prior to WWI (Turkey paying UK for ships and then Churchill seizing them rather than delivering them).

Seems like a bad idea. Ultimately you need to develop your own weapon systems program and training program.

You could rely upon an ally for very limited purposes (and to learn/reverse engineer).
 
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Michael Lind
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YES!!!

Do you really want to wait to have something shipped (weapon, parts, ammo) from who knows wherever its needed if a war happens to be going on?

I always thought it was smart of us to supply weapons to other nations as it gave us an edge if they ever became a concern.
 
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Paul
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Quote:
Depends on who you may fight


Thinks it also depends on how you fight.

Th Boers did pretty well against the British without any real arms manufacturing capacity. The Czechs had a robust arms industry and went down without a fight.

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Jasper
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The VC seemed to be doing allright without any manufacturing base to speak of.
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Maya
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The only honest answer as I see is "it depends on a bunch of things". One of the reasons Israel kept the M60 and Centurion tanks in use for decades (with homegrown upgrades) was that they could get cheap spare parts for them from the US and the UK. (Similarly, much of the IDF has always been armed with M-16s instead of the homegrown Galil rifle, and almost all of the IAF's hardware is American.) Israel being a small country without a huge industrial complex, this was an important factor. Buying American weapon systems has also traditionally been part of the diplomatic process and the "special relationship" between the two countries.

On the other hand, making sure you have weapons that suit your specific needs is also important. The M60 is definitely a capable tank, but it's not an ideal fit for Israel's terrain or its fighting doctrines, and the M-16 isn't the best fit either. That's why the Merkava and the Galil were invented. The M1 was at one point offered to Israel as a replacement for the aging M60s, but the cost was astronomic, the tank not ideal for our terrain, and the IDF was extremely happy with the Merkava, so the answer was a polite "thanks but no tanks."
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