One possible location is near the Gromov Flight Research Institute — an experimental aircraft test base — to Moscow’s southeast. The future site, though, may also resemble the Skolkovo Innovation Center, a sort of Silicon Valley for Russia’s high-tech companies located on the city’s opposite end. But instead of focusing on civilian IT and biotech like at Skolkovo, the companies near Gromov would take charge of “all high-risk and fundamental research projects in the military-industrial complex,” Dmitry Rogozin, chief of Russia’s defense industry, said.
Basically, Russia wants to modernize, and needs its own far-out research department to do it. Its military is getting old and risks becoming dependent on other countries. It’s also a part of a larger Russian push for more military tech. And there’s no telling what projects the agency could come up with. Perhaps the agency, when open for business, can take on the task of controlling our minds and constructing robots that will keep the human brain alive forever.
There is also competition from China, which is boosting its defense budget and has its own Darpa-like tech programs. China has a stealth fighter of its own: the J-20. China’s navy may not be alarming, but its missiles are increasingly lethal, and Beijing is catching up in space.
Another problem is that Russia has traditionally built its military around quantity, not quality. It’s been slow to modernize, and the civilian sector has historically been left out, nor did it compete for contracts. That’s changed, but scattered private firms without oversight can also bog down development.
Russia’s missile-defense-dodging Bulava ballistic missile was prone to delays and test failures during development. Officials blamed the hundreds of subcontractors supplying parts, with varying degrees of quality. Russian defense subcontractors are also prone to duplicating work because Russia has no centralized database to track research projects.