Ministry of Radio Industry
Because of the drive for automation and modernization of production processes, the electronics industry increasingly supported many other industrial branches. Special emphasis was given to improving cooperation between electronics plants and the machine-building and metallurgy branches--a partnership severely hindered in many cases by the industrial bureaucracy. In official progress reports, all industries listed process automation and robotization as standards for efficiency and expansion, and conversion from manual processes has been a prime indicator of progress in heavy industry. At the same time, government policy has relied heavily on the electronics industry for televisions, recording equipment, and radios for the consumer market. None of those items came close to planned production quotas for 1987, however.
Beginning in the 1970s, the most important role of the electronics industry was to supply lasers, optics, and computers and to perform research and development on other advanced equipment for weapons guidance, communications, and space systems. The importance of electronics for civilian industry has led to interministry research organizations that encourage the advanced military design sector to share technology with its civilian counterpart. Such an organization was called an interbranch scientific-technical complex (mezhotraslevoi nauchnotekhnicheskii kompleks--MNTK). It united the research and production organizations of several ministries and had broad coordination control over the development of new technologies. Because of the military uses of Soviet electronics, the West has had incomplete specific data about it. In the early 1980s, an estimated 40 percent of Soviet electronics research projects had benefited substantially from the transfer of Western and Japanese technology. In the late 1980s, however, Soviet electronics trailed the West and Japan in most areas of applied electronics, although circuit design and systems engineering programs were comparable. The Soviet theoretical computer base was strong, but equipment and programming were below Western standards. Problems have been chronic in advanced fields such as ion implantation and microelectronics testing. The branches designated by Soviet planners as most critical in the 1980s were industrial robots and manipulators, computerized control systems for industrial machines, and semiconductors for computer circuits.
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