After the fall of the USSR Belarus inherited a great number of enterprises, which produced military goods, mainly unaccomplished components, units, details, etc. Old economic and production links with foreign enterprises were mostly broken. At the same time the Belarusian defence industry was disconnected as officially defence enterprises belonged to different branches of industry. Such situation did not facilitate the development of the defence industry.
Under these conditions the state authorities clearly realised the objective reality and understood the urgent necessity to improve not only combat training but also armament and military and special equipment in order to maintain the combat potential of the Armed Forces at the level desired.
The State Military Industrial Committee was established on the initiative of the Belarusian President under Presidential Decree No. 599 of 30 December 2003 in order to implement common policy in the sphere of defence, development and strengthening of military-technical cooperation with foreign states.
The committee was supposed to accomplish tasks mainly connected with implementing state policy in the sphere of defence, coordinating the activities of administrative bodies aimed at forming the state defence order, as well as working out and implementing the development strategy of the defence industry.
At the first stage, which started in 2003, the State Military Industrial Committee stabilised the situation at the defence enterprises and coordinated their activities.
The adoption of the State Armament Programme (SAP) for 2006–2015, which implies gradual technical re-equipment of the Armed Forces, has become the most important milestone in the committee’s activity. This proved to be the first large-scale military-technical project in the history of sovereign Belarus. The programme was worked out in compliance with the state’s financial and economic capabilities and it specifies measures to be taken at all the stages of the operating lifetime of armament and military equipment from their development and production to entering the inventory, as well as maintaining combat readiness of armament and military equipment inherited from the Soviet Army and their improving.
The measures taken by the State Military Industrial Committee allowed increasing common operability and service life of armament and military equipment, as well as combat potential of the Armed Forces considerably. Due to research and development activities implemented, Belarusian enterprises obtained the opportunity to produce new reconnaissance, electronic warfare and navigation equipment, as well as all-level automated control systems for the Air Force and Air Defence. All this resulted in up to 10–15 new samples of armament and military equipment, which enter the inventory of the Belarusian army annually.
The second stage of the committee’s development was completed in 2010, when the management of all elements of military-technical policy was centralised.
The State Military Industrial Committee has actually become a national administrative body fully in charge of Belarus’ military-technical policy, regulating and controlling the following spheres: development and maintenance of armament and military and special equipment; development of the defence industry, military-technical cooperation of Belarus with other states, export control and navigational activities, as well as coordination of activities of Belarusian administrative bodies in the spheres mentioned.
Having considered the priority tasks of Belarus’ economy and the country’s military-technical policy aimed at production of cutting-edge competitive samples of armament and military and special equipment, demanded both in Belarus and abroad, the Military Industrial Committee’s Development Programme for 2011–2015 was developed. The programme determines five priority lines in the development of armament and military and special equipment: military geoinformation systems, unmanned aircraft systems, systems for countering precise weapons, combat systems for the special operations forces and the Army, as well as firing systems.
From 2011 to 2015, defence companies independently and in cooperation have developed unmanned aircraft systems, multiple launch rocket systems, lightly-armoured vehicles and vehicles for carrying weapons systems, radar systems, automation systems, as well as reconnaissance, electronic warfare, and communications systems.
The most important results of the defence companies’ activities were new advanced weapons, which were showcased at the parade of the Minsk garrison on 9 May 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War. Within a short time Belarusian defence companies developed and productionised the Lis lightly-armoured vehicles and a combat system that is on a par with the best world analogues.
Tests of the new long-range MRLS Polonez, which were conducted in June 2015, confirmed the capabilities of this high-precision weapons system.
Belarusian defence companies developed and productionised advanced communications and data transmission systems (P-261 Muscat communication equipment vehicle, radio relay stations Tsitrus, Potok (R-429) and Liniya (R-424), portable digital radio stations R-180 and R-181), radars and electronic warfare systems (Vostok radar system, Rosa-RB radar system, Groza jamming system, Naves jammer intended to jam navigation systems and GPS), as well as carried out upgrades and overhaul of almost all radars in service with the Belarusian Armed Forces.
New examples of tactical unmanned aerial vehicles Berkut-1 and Berkut-2 (included in the inventory), as well as Grif-100 (will be delivered to the military in 2016) have been produced. An aviation technical centre for maintenance and use of unmanned aircraft systems was established at the 558th Aircraft Repair Plant (the 558th ARZ), up-to-date machining equipment was purchased, and new production facilities were put into operation.
In addition, the MZKT-600200 and MZKT-500200 Zastava vehicles were productionised. The Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant (MZKT) began developing the lightly-armoured vehicle V-1. The ADUNOK robotic system was productionised. Repair and upgrade of Su-25 and MiG-29 aircraft and upgrade of the BM-21 Grad MLRS to the BM-21-M Belgrad are carried out.
Defence companies contributed to fielding of about 900 items of advanced, upgraded and repaired weapons systems and military and special equipment.
The groundwork in the social-economic development of the Goscomvoyenprom companies, which was laid in 2011-2015, served as a basis for planning for the next five-year period and for drawing up the Defence Sector and Goscomvoyenprom Development Programme to 2020, as well as plans of the Goskomvoyenprom companies’ development.
Taking into account that forms and methods of warfare have changed, Goscomvoyenprom has identified five projects (complexes fire power destruction systems; vehicles for carrying weapons systems; unmanned aerial complexes for military and civil purposes; combat geoinformation systems; integrated higt-precision weapon countermeasure systemsfire weapons), which are implemented by defence companies.
Lines of development of military products were identified (specified) within the framework of these projects. Priority is given to robotic and unmanned systems, fire weapons, combat weapons based on new physical principles, as well as lightly-armoured vehicles on universal wheel chassis that are integrated with individual and group military systems, and so on.
As part of the implementation of the above-mentioned programmes, defence companies will continue developing up-to-date and advanced weapons systems to equip the Armed Forces, other troops, military units and paramilitary organisations of the Republic of Belarus, as well as for export.
Improvement of the defence sector management system, upgrade of production facilities and set-up of new generation weapons production based on new technology, as well as establishment of import substitution industries will be continued. This will allow developing and manufacturing high-quality competitive products, saving (extending) the presence in arms markets, and meeting the uniformed departments’ needs in advanced weapons systems.
At the moment the structure of the State Military Industrial Committee includes 24 main defence companies. It also coordinates activities of more than 150 entities, which are licensed to develop, produce, improve and maintain military products; 90 of them are licensed to conduct foreign trade activities in relation to products for military purposes.
Belarus’ policy in the sphere of the development of the military industrial complex is aimed to make it effective and high-tech multiproduct industry.
It includes enterprises of radio engineering, electronic, optical-mechanical, aviation, electro-technical and instrument making industries, plants of the car- and tractor industry, armament and military and special equipment overhaul and repair plants and some enterprises of other industries.