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Yugoslavia (former) Arms Imports
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
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    Immediately after World War II, Yugoslavia received a substantial amount of Italian military equipment as war reparations. The Yugoslav arms industry used captured German and Czechoslovak weapons as models in manufacturing its own small arms and infantry equipment. The United States, France, and Britain also supplied arms after the war. After Tito broke with Stalin in 1948, Yugoslavia depended heavily on the United States for military assistance. A United States Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) was active in Yugoslavia until 1961, managing a total of about US$600 million in military aid. In conjunction with the flow of United States weapons, many Yugoslav officers came to the United States for training during that period. Yugoslavia received World War II-vintage equipment and some more up-to-date systems, including M-4 Sherman and M-47 Patton tanks, M-2 and M-3 half-tracked personnel carriers, artillery, and F-86 Thunderflash fighter-bombers. Some of this equipment was still in service or held in reserve in 1990. After the Belgrade Declaration of 1955 improved bilateral relations, the Soviet Union became Yugoslavia's main supplier of arms and equipment. In the 1960s, Yugoslavia received Soviet T-34 and T54 /-55 tanks, first-generation antitank guided missiles, Osaclass missile boats, and MiG-21 fighters. In the 1970s, the Soviet Union sold Mi-4 and Mi-8 helicopters and SA-2 and SA-6 surface-to-air missiles. Since 1985 Yugoslavia has received a license to produce a domestic version of the Soviet T-72 tank for its own use and for export. In the late 1980s, Yugoslavia was one of only a few countries to be sold the new Soviet MiG-29 fighter. At an estimated cost of US$20 million per aircraft, however, the MiG-29 was considered too expensive for Yugoslavia to purchase more than a few as models for its own aircraft industry.

    Purchases from the Soviet Union had the advantage of sparing Yugoslavia the scarce hard currency (see Glossary) reserves required as payment by Western suppliers. The Soviet Union also provided generous credit and repayment terms. Civilian authorities in Yugoslavia voiced serious concerns about the political influence gained by the Soviet Union from such favorable terms. Arms sales and frequent contacts had the potential to build a constituency favorable to the Soviet Union in the YPA and its leadership. In any event, the situation in 1990 preserved some of Yugoslavia's previous dependency on good relations with the Soviet Union.

    In the late 1980s, economic stringency forced postponement of some major military purchases from Western countries. Yugoslavia investigated purchase from other suppliers of mobile missile systems for defense against armor, aircraft, and ships. Antitank, antiaircraft, and antiship missiles were relatively cheap alternatives to domestic manufacture of more tanks, interceptors, and ships.

    When possible, Yugoslavia sought to establish licensed domestic production of foreign weapons systems. In general, Western countries placed more restrictions on licensing agreements and offered less generous terms than the Soviet Union, because the former saw such deals strictly as profitmaking transactions. In all cases, Yugoslavia refused to accept political conditions on the use or retransfer of imported arms. In the early 1980s, negotiations to supply Yugoslavia with modern United States-manufactured TOW antitank guided missiles broke down after the revelation that Yugoslavia had violated the terms of a prior transfer, sending M-47 tanks to the new revolutionary regime in Ethiopia in the early 1980s.

    In the 1970s and 1980s, Yugoslavia expanded significantly its arms cooperation with countries outside the Soviet and United States spheres. In cooperation with Swiss firms, Yugoslavia produced a multiple-use 20mm antiaircraft cannon and incorporated the imported Snecma engine into its own M-980 armored combat vehicle. The Yugoslav M-60P armored personnel carrier used an Austrian engine. Cooperation with other nonaligned countries was extensive. With India and Egypt, Yugoslavia traded spare parts for Soviet weapons and aircraft. With Swedish assistance, Yugoslav engineers developed laser rangefinders for sale to Egypt and for domestic installation on Soviet-made tanks. Yugoslavia bought many systems from two Soviet Warsaw Pact allies, Czechoslovakia and Poland. The Yugoslav 128mm YMRL-32 multiplerocket launcher, with thirty-two tubes and automatic reloader, was modeled after Czechoslovak and Romanian versions of the Soviet BM-21. Yugoslavia purchased MiG-21 fighters made under Soviet license in Czechoslovakia; Czechoslovak M53/59 truckmounted antiaircraft guns; and T-55 tanks and An-2 and An-28 transport aircraft built under Soviet license in Poland.

    According to the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, between 1967 and 1976 the Soviet Union supplied 93 percent of Yugoslavia's arms purchases, Poland and France supplied 2 percent each, the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and Czechoslovakia supplied 1 percent each, and the United States supplied less than 1 percent. In that period, arms made up 5 to 6 percent of the country's total imports. The situation changed considerably in succeeding years as the Soviet Union's supply role diminished. Between 1983 and 1987, Yugoslavia bought US$600 million in arms abroad. The Soviet Union supplied 75 percent of this amount and the United States 23 percent, with the remaining 2 percent supplied by ten other countries. In 1985 economic stringency reduced arms imports to US$30 million, less than one-quarter of 1 percent of total imports. By 1987 that figure had rebounded to US$210 million.

    Data as of December 1990

    NOTE: The information regarding Yugoslavia (former) on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Yugoslavia (former) Arms Imports information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Yugoslavia (former) Arms Imports should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

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Revised 27-Mar-05
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