Russia’s military history based on borrowing

While the Cold War ended 20 years ago, the world certainly doesn’t seem any safer. It doesn’t seem that long ago...

While the Cold War ended 20 years ago, the world certainly doesn’t seem any safer. It doesn’t seem that long ago images of Berliners swinging iron hammers at “The Wall” were on TV coupled with optimistic predictions that the Soviet Union and its citizens were no longer our enemies. Russia and the rest of the USSR’s remnants were on “our side” now.

With the recent meddling of Vlad Putin’s government in its neighboring countries, the impression that Russia is not threat to anyone is quickly fading. Russia, at the very least, seems to be a threat to Ukraine, as the recent invasion and absorption of Crimea proves. Too, Russia’s military intervention in Syria’s civil war is not only the former USSR looking out for its traditional Middle Eastern ally but is also akin to Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany interfering in the Spanish Civil War: let’s test out some of these awesome new weapons we’ve got.

Pundits around the world waxed eloquently about Russia’s military prowess in Syria. To be sure, the Russian military is strong. It’s the best military technology that a nation could steal.

Ever wonder where the famed AK-47 assault rifle came from? If you think it developed purely from the imagination of Mihail Kalasnikov, you’re mistake. During WWII the German military developed the first assault rifle, the MP-44. Many thousands were manufactured, and many thousands captured by the Soviet Union. Two years after the war ended, the AK-47 appeared and looked suspiciously similar to the MP-44. While Russian apologists try desperately to deny any connection, Russian historian Aleksei Korobeinikov had written in 2009, “Famous Soviet arms builder Mihail Kalasnikov recently acknowledged he didn’t work alone at the design and development of the AK-47 assault rifle, but he benefited from the help of Hugo Schmeisser, the most prolific small arms inventor of the Third Reich.”

Then there’s the famed MiG-15, the first Soviet jet fighter. The early Soviet jet industry was built on German designs captured or stolen by the USSR at the end of WWII. Most military historians agree the MiG-15’s swept wing design was cribbed from German research. Needing a decent jet turbine, Soviet envoys bought “test engines” from the British government, Rolls Royce Nenes, then blatantly copied them for use in the MiG-15 (Rolls Royce subsequently tried to sue the Soviet government for 200 million pounds).

Then there’s the famous Mig-29 high-speed interceptor, the so-called “Foxbat.” Being a jet and military history buff, I always wondered why the Mig-25 looked so similar to Canada’s failed Avro Arrow. The Arrow was a late 1950’s, early 1960’s interceptor designed to stop Soviet bombers that may be carrying nukes across the Arctic circle.

There’s a reason why the MiG-25 looks so similar. It’s a proven fact the Canadian government was infiltrated by Soviet spies, and that the Avro Arrow was one of the projects penetrated by those Russian spies. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, many files were declassified, including the Mitrokhin archives which described how the Canadian aerospace industry, and particularly the Arrow program, had been infiltrated by Warsaw Pact spies. Coincidentally, by 1964, the MiG-25 appeared. Just out of the blue.

So take Vlad Putin’s veiled threats about his rejuvenated military with a grain of salt. No doubt, every weapon in the Russian arsenal probably originated in the West and our engineers are familiar with their strengths and weaknesses.

Because all of our engineers designed it first.

Stu Salkeld is the new editor of the Leduc/Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.


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