Russia’s Military R&D Infrastructure – A Primer


  • Johan Engvall

Publish date: 2021-04-21

Report number: FOI-R--5124--SE

Pages: 53

Written in: English


  • Russia
  • military R&D
  • research institutes
  • design bureaus
  • scientific production associations
  • defence industry
  • military technology
  • artificial intelligence
  • military autonomy
  • unmanned systems


Russia's military R&D infrastructure has long historical roots and consists of three main types of organisation - research institutes, design bureaus and scientific production associations. Research institutes primarily conduct applied research for the defence industry. Design bureaus engage in developing prototypes. Scientific production associations combine R&D facilities with their own production factories. Overall, the military R&D infrastructure consists of approximately 600 organisations. Out of these, there are about 300 research institutes, close to 130 design bureaus and roughly 170 scientific production organisations. Geographically, the R&D organisations are largely concentrated in scientific industrial centres, which combine scientific research and production. Almost half of Russia's R&D entities are located in and around Moscow and almost one-fifth in St. Petersburg. Overall, Russia's military R&D can be divided into seven main branches: aviation; space technology; shipbuilding; conventional arms; radio electronics and communication systems; ammunition and special chemicals; and nuclear technology. In addition, the Russian government prioritises new critical military technology areas, such as artificial intelligence and robotics and autonomous systems. These are cross-cutting technologies with R&D initiatives taking place across the traditional branches. Nonetheless, the government has created several specific R&D initiatives to concentrate, streamline and speed-up technology development in these fields.