Export variants of Soviet military equipment

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This article is about military equipment. For animal testing in medical research, see Animal model.

Export variants of Soviet military equipment were versions of Soviet military equipment (armored vehicles, airplanes, missiles) of significantly inferior capability to the original designs and intended only for export. Monkey model was the unofficial designation given by the Soviet Military to such variants. The monkey model was exported with the same or a similar designation as the original Soviet design but in fact it lacked many of the advanced or expensive features of the original.

Monkey-model weaponry was used mainly by non-communist Soviet allies, such as Egypt, Iraq and Syria. Eastern Bloc states generally used fully capable versions of Soviet weaponry, although poorer states often used earlier generations of weapons.

The term monkey model was popularized in the West by Viktor Suvorov, in Inside the Soviet Army. Suvorov states that the simplified monkey model was designed for massive production in wartime, to replace front-line stocks if a war should last for several weeks. In peacetime, Soviet industry gained experience building both standard and export-model variants, the latter being for sale "to the 'brothers' and 'friends' of the USSR as the very latest equipment available." He also cites the benefit of disinformation when an exported monkey model fell into the hands of Western intelligence, who "naturally gained a completely false impression of the true combat capabilities of the BMP-1 and of Soviet tanks" (Suvorov 1982:215).

Armored vehicles[edit]

Monkey-model tanks were equipped with lower grade fire control systems, lower grade armor, lacking NBC protection, and provided with substandard ammunition.

For example, the inferior 3VBM8/3BM17/18 APFSDS 125 mm smoothbore rounds were exported for use in the T-72 family of tanks. It was specifically designed for export and had a penetration of sloped armor at 2000 m that was half as much as that of the original Soviet model.[citation needed]

Aircraft[edit]

Monkey-model aircraft were downgraded in a manner similar to that of tanks. The MiG-23 MS 'Flogger-E', for example, was an export variant the original MiG 23 developed because the MiG 23 was considered too advanced to be exported to Third World countries. The 'Flogger-E' lacked the most advanced features of the original. Infra-red search and track and beyond visual range missile capabilities were removed and its avionics suite was very basic. This variant was widely sold during the 1970s to Soviet allies in the Middle East.

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