The independent resource on global security

7. Military research and development




Global military research and development (R&D)
expenditure continued to decline in 1997, mainly because of reductions
in the US budget, which will be cut by another 14% by the year
2001. Critics claim that US forces are vulnerable to new threats,
particularly ballistic and cruise missiles, but these fears are
exaggerated. US investment in military R&D is more than seven
times that of France, the nearest competitor. It is unlikely
that a global challenger to US power will emerge before 2020.
Rather, the international system will increase its dependence
on US technology and military intervention.

By the mid-1990s most members of the Organisation
for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) were spending
less than 110% of their 1983 R&D funding levels. The fear commonly
expressed that science would be irreversibly militarized by the
build-up in the 1980s has not been borne out, the military share
of government and national R&D having returned to its 1983 level
or lower in most cases. Contrary to expectations, the 1991 Persian
Gulf War did not lead 'second-tier' arms producers to increase
their R&D budgets in the hope of developing or countering technologies
demonstrated by the USA, which itself cancelled several programmes
at that time.

Russia is allowing its design bureaux to sell
their expertise abroad, but has promised to limit technology
transfer. Japan reduced its military R&D investment for the first
time since 1976.