What if the Soviet Union collapsed in 1995 instead of 1991?

helmutkohl

ACCESS: Top Secret
Staff member
Senior Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2010
Messages
1,082
Reaction score
1,890
It seemed that the collapse of the Soviet Union was inevitable, but what if somehow, they were able to hold on a bit longer for 4-5 more years?

How would this change arms acquisitions and development around the world?
foreign policy around the world?
domestic policies?
 

Kat Tsun

I really should change my personal text
Joined
Jun 16, 2013
Messages
307
Reaction score
267
There would be 10x as many Notas in existence. So 50 instead of 5. Maybe half a dozen MiG 1.44s and a single Yak-44.

That's about it I suppose.
 

BLACK_MAMBA

ACCESS: Confidential
Joined
Jul 17, 2019
Messages
141
Reaction score
258
I can certainly see a lot of the NATO fighter projects like Eurofighter, ATF, Rafale etc accelerate in development moving their timelines forward with EF flying in 91/92 already. Same with F-22 due to extra years of lots of pressure and plenty funding. Probably we have a lot more F-14D's being built too.
 

Kat Tsun

I really should change my personal text
Joined
Jun 16, 2013
Messages
307
Reaction score
267
The Peace Dividend was being talked about in April 1991 so I really doubt that. Options for Change already locked in a bunch of cuts. Besides that, the main combat system for Eurofighter wasn't ready until like 1999 because the technology for PIRATE was very state-of-the-art. By that definition the Typhoon had been flying since the 1980's with the BAE prototype demonstrator. So nothing changes there. Rafale also flew in 1986, so again nothing changes. Even Brimstone got the axe at one point (it came back though).

The collapse of the USSR ultimately had nothing to do with any of that.

It was the fall of the Berlin Wall and subsequent reunification of Germany that drove defense cuts.

Simple industrial bottlenecks are what determined that F-22 wouldn't enter production/service before 2007 and Eurofighter before 2004. These cannot be reduced by "more effort" because Western countries were already expending their maximum industrial efforts on them. It was the then-unused excess production capacities that were discarded. You can see this at Lima Army Tank Plant where the hardly-used DATP was shuttered and Lima was dropped to 20 tanks a month in 1992 because the amount of tanks needed had been vastly declining since 1988. It wasn't even clear if M1A2 was going to be produced in large quantities.

That said, no one expected the USSR to collapse as quickly as it did, but rather the expectation was there would be a period of civil warfare (there was, though it's not called that for some reason) and the USSR would be greatly diminished in "threat" to Western Europe due to the collapse of the DDR, Kohl's inevitable reunification push, and Warsaw Pact probably dissolving sometime in the early to mid '90's. Everyone anticipated that probably by 1999 the USSR would be so heavily reduced it's basically a non-factor in European defense planning and that the DDR would cease to exist, although the latter happened in less than a year after the Berlin Wall's collapse but that was Kohl's personal crusade. So if the USSR blows up in 1995 instead of 1991 nothing really changes except maybe they make literally a few dozen more tanks.

The Nota was supposed to have a battalion of tanks delivered by 1994 for testing and the Agava-2 sight was ready in 1993 or something, for the T-80UK, so that plus the fire control issues being solved would most likely fix all the teething problems it had. Whether Nota would actually work or continue to be busted to heck and back is an open question. Ukraine and Russia had an extremely close defense relationship until the early oughties, to the point of jointly funding and finishing Nota in 2002, so that would likely continue.

But the trend line for defense budget cuts and scaling back of Cold War armies was made in 1989, and anticipated in 1988, with the rumblings visible as far back as 1985. The only questions were how long until the DDR and BRD reunite, how long until Poland wrenches itself out of the Warsaw Pact, and how long until the Soviets dissolve the GSFG. The answers to all of these were something like "slightly faster than desired but not especially surprising at the time" and none of them change.

You would need the communist countries to somehow be able to survive post-Brezhnev stagnation and the answer to that is something like "more repression" and "make oil prices go up". The USSR mostly collapsed because of a combination of terrible management by Gorbachev in all areas and lack of tax income due to the oil glut of the 1980's. I suspect the latter is the real killer since the entire Soviet economy was based on extraction industries like oil/gas and wheat export, and when that floor fell out from under them in the 1980's the entire thing just shook itself apart like a rickety jalopy.

Western countries like Netherlands avoided this by inventing the Eurozone and using Germany's massive industrial capacities and economic trade surpluses to subsidize themselves, incidentally. The USSR would need a similar white knight to swoop in and save it, and even if it did something ludicrous like privatize its space launch industry or something and try to sell rocket launches to folks (it did do this, AIUI), it wouldn't be enough to make up for the fact that the bulk of its economy was focused on agriculture and energy extraction. And for every dollar it spent on extracting oil, by far away its biggest income source, it was losing a dollar selling it in mid-80's oil prices.

It could perhaps have tried to repress its people harder, glasnost definitely didn't help since it sapped the USSR of any remaining moral mindedness in favor of self-deprecating cynicism (once you realized how bad the Soviet system was, it was easily decided that fixing it was not worth the effort), but perestroika was the real kill shot in terms of cash money. The Soviet Union tried to liberalize too fast and too hard and died for want of capitalist envy. The USSR might have been able to weather the storm had Brezhnev not decided to subsidize heavy industry with the extraction economy, as in the Ninth through Eleventh Five Year Plans, the resource share of the oil/gas export economy had gone from a quarter to a third of the Soviet overall economic resources. Or perhaps had Gorbachev not decided to drain the accounts of industry and service by sapping them of all their money and engendering a major kleptocracy (bigger than had already existed).

Had the USSR invested in better machine tools or something, it would have been in a better position. It didn't, though, and it isn't entirely clear if it would have been able to do so, nor when this would be a good time. It's entirely possible that Kosygin's proposed reforms would have been too little too late even in the Khrushchev era. But that would remove the entire Cold War from history, which is really just the history of the USSR achieving what it always wanted: a big machine that eats metal and poops tanks.

The USSR existing today would be more interesting but it would imply that the Cold War either never happened or ended much earlier, or perhaps perestroika means a sovereign wealth fund tucked away for a rainy day, but that would require Brezhnev to be less somnolent and actively managing the country I suppose. It's not implausible, much like how Alaska (after the construction of TAPS) established a sovereign wealth fund to "tame the black devil", or how Texas funds its schools through oil extraction. Norway also did this in the 1960's. Why the USSR didn't? Well I suppose it's because they kept finding oil and oil was always going to sell. So they sorta overreached and when the oil glut smacked them in the gut they found themselves with about a zillion percent more oil extraction capacity than they could reasonably manage with income and no way to legally fire people from their jobs that they were promised.

Extraction economies are rather finicky and subject to the whims of the world market, something I'm not sure that Soviet economic planners were allowed to say out loud during Brezhnev's time even though they knew as much, lest they risk finding themselves demoted to factory foreman if he wakes up from his nap.
 
Last edited:

helmutkohl

ACCESS: Top Secret
Staff member
Senior Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2010
Messages
1,082
Reaction score
1,890
If the USSR had not collapsed in 1991, this would have happened to the USA
looks almost the same as what actually happened in the mid 90s.. except more MiG-29Ks, Yak-141s, and the attack helos (mi-28 and ka-52) entered service earlier
 

SSgtC

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Jul 13, 2020
Messages
832
Reaction score
1,502
The US keeps a bigger carrier force a few years longer, Forrestal actually ends up serving as a training carrier, replacing Lexington in that role. America probably gets her planned (then canceled) SLEP Overhaul in 1996. The F-14D program doesn't get cut as drastically, so the Navy probably has a couple hundred of them. The proposed Super Tomcat may actually get a real look as a successor plane (assuming the Navy still rules out converting the F-22 to carrier use). The AIM-152 won't get killed in the cradle, and would probably still be in service today giving us the long range AAM we've been lacking since the retirement of the Phoenix. The AMRAAM gets into service a few years early (it's development was slowed by the collapse of the USSR). And finally, we probably get more than 3 Seawolf class boats (anywhere from as few as 6 total to as many as 12 depending on what's actually been ordered and is being built). The US may also be more open to retaining Clark Air Base and Naval Base Subic Bay in the Philippines (for the right price, of course).
 

SSgtC

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Jul 13, 2020
Messages
832
Reaction score
1,502
Plus the A-6Fs survive too I presume? (A-12 probably doomed anyway)
I'm not sure about this one. IIRC, they were canceled in favor of the A-12. Maybe the program get revisited and they get ordered in small numbers as an "interim" aircraft to cover a gap until the A-12 is ready.
 

zen

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
2,931
Reaction score
1,697
Presumably there would be no 'submarine holiday' for the RN under this scenario and something like Astute would emerge earlier and in larger number.

Had the threat lasted into 1995, then arguably more Type 23 would be forthcoming at least in planning. With possibly the last ships being of the stretched type, mostly just to ease operational use and maintenance. This might induce government to sell off early build Type 23s rather than cut production.
 

CV12Hornet

ACCESS: Confidential
Joined
Jan 8, 2021
Messages
152
Reaction score
306
Plus the A-6Fs survive too I presume? (A-12 probably doomed anyway)
The A-6F was cancelled in 1988 in favor of more focus on the ATA/A-12, so it's still dead in the water (unfortunately).

The A-12 is probably doomed, too. That died because of irrecoverable technical/program problems, and not the Peace Dividend. NATF was in a similar boat.

As for the F-14D... maybe? It all depends on if the US Navy can sufficiently make their case about the F-14's long-range interception capability to overcome Congress' boner for the Hornet.

Regardless, there's probably at least some progress on a serious next-gen attacker program by 1995. Enough to avoid it getting sucked into the JSF program with the CALF program? Who knows.
 

CV12Hornet

ACCESS: Confidential
Joined
Jan 8, 2021
Messages
152
Reaction score
306
With both the A-6F and A-12 dead, I think that's where the F-14D+ can sneak in and stick around.
That was the case IOTL, too, and the Hornet lobby prevailed. The continued threat of AV-MF Backfire divisions provides some additional impetus to the F-14D in this case, but that Hornet lobby is strong.
 

Kat Tsun

I really should change my personal text
Joined
Jun 16, 2013
Messages
307
Reaction score
267
Presumably there would be no 'submarine holiday' for the RN under this scenario and something like Astute would emerge earlier and in larger number.

Had the threat lasted into 1995, then arguably more Type 23 would be forthcoming at least in planning. With possibly the last ships being of the stretched type, mostly just to ease operational use and maintenance. This might induce government to sell off early build Type 23s rather than cut production.

There was no "threat" in 1990, when the USSR fully existed, and there wouldn't be for the foreseeable future.

All those defense cuts (frigate/destroyer cuts, submarine force cuts, Astute development) were done as a result of things that occurred in 1989, not 1991. Nothing would change even if the USSR existed today because the USSR stopped existing as a threat when Germany decided to reunify. Even if the USSR had never collapsed, I still don't see them producing anymore than a few dozen T-50s and 100-200 T-14s though, but that's more than Russia will likely build.

The entire Cold War was a question over what to do over Germany after WW2 and the Soviets and French wanted to dismember it forever into little tiny countries like German Confederation (charitable, I doubt they would be politically unified), while the British and Americans wanted to rebuild it as a democratic country, and the British and American view eventually won. That question was raised again in 1989 when the DDR began its road to being dissolved and finished in 1990 when Kohl reunified Germany.

There would be zero impetus to spend on more submarines or whatever, because the Cold War had long been over in 1991, and the need for offensive submarine operations into the Arctic Ocean was long gone.

Both Britain and America genuinely had more anxiety over German and Japanese industry in 1990 than they did over the Red Army. The USSR would have withdrawn its Western Group of Forces the same the Russians did in 1994 with no questions asked. That's not what a "threat" does.

With both the A-6F and A-12 dead, I think that's where the F-14D+ can sneak in and stick around.
That was the case IOTL, too, and the Hornet lobby prevailed. The continued threat of AV-MF Backfire divisions provides some additional impetus to the F-14D in this case, but that Hornet lobby is strong.

None of this would happen except Hornet getting bought I suppose.

No super F-14 Tomcat 21s or whatever would exist. None of the attack aircraft like F-35 would have any major diversion from normal, because the Cold War was long over, and there's zero impetus to work on them, and because their bottlenecks are related to being ambitious and highly advanced weapons systems that require decades of development as a rule, rather than any sort of moral component. There might be an extra Seawolf or two, but that had more to do with GDEB's crummy worker management and welders' strike than anything, and Clinton would nuke any additional boats. While I could see Bush Sr. keeping like two or three in the budget items they would probably be killed before being laid down if they could get away with it. So NSSN still goes ahead and produces the 774s. Also no Aegis conversions of legacy surface ships either beyond NTU because the air-missile threat was completely gone, and the CGNs still get canned.

The Soviets killed their Backfire force long before they dissolved, this is well known, and the AV-MF attempted to sue Tupolev for it due to breach of contract, but as defense companies are powerful in the East, as in the West this never happened to any significant degree. By August 1991 the readiness rates were somewhere around 30-40% on average and this was close to typical for the AV-MF through the Backfire's life. They probably would have cut the number of regiments in half to bolster the readiness rates up to mediocre 2020s USAF levels, and overall retreat to the Polish-Soviet border where they'd build a giant wall or something. This would not go unnoticed and people would take it as a sign that the USSR was giving up the (invented) trans-Atlantic interdiction idea at least.

The USA would still grapple with its problems of having no defined enemy that it grappled with in the 1990's, and I guess the big economic crunch of the USSR happens in the early 2000s instead of the late 1990s.

There might be a literal few dozen minor changes that don't matter, such as 50 Notas in existence in a single armor battalion. Maybe a single Yak-44 prototype would exist at a museum, probably not in flying condition. Yak-141 still gets slayed by budget cuts. Ka-50 still too expensive and pilot overload too high to justify mass production, Mi-28 is produced instead, maybe the same number of units but production starts somewhat sooner and gets rockier. Ulyanovsk might be 70-80% instead of half and gets sold to China later on. Second unit is either never laid down, or scrapped like the real life one. Tu-160s probably aren't scrapped in Ukraine, the entire force might be centralized in the Urals or something.

None of these are dramatic changes that result in major trend lines shifting though. Because the USSR blowing up in 1995 and not 1991 is not a major dramatic change. It's probably what people were outright expecting, if you read some of the minutes of discussions from Congress in 1990-1991, regarding future defense programs. Perhaps the Soviet dissolution was less shocking in its violence and more shocking in its relative rapidity but I guess that shows how far cynicism had penetrated the Soviet mindset at the time.
 
Last edited:

Archibald

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
7,721
Reaction score
6,955
Gulf War 1 and Yugoslavia bloodbaths may be a little "hotter" with a surviving USSR even on its knees and last breath.
Since Iraq and Yugoslavia (even with Tito, I know) were within the Soviet sphere on influence, at least as armement was concerned...
 

zen

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
2,931
Reaction score
1,697
Worse, Serbia's relationship with Russia is historic and unavoidable.
 

Archibald

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
7,721
Reaction score
6,955
Worse, Serbia's relationship with Russia is historic and unavoidable.

I clearly remember in 1999 when NATO bombed the crap out of Milosevitch and Yeltsin was quite furious. And it was Russia as its nadir, just before Vlad Putin took over.

"Les Guignols" had a couple of memorable sketch:
- one with a "Don't worry, keep quiet, keep cool" Chirac actually in complete panick;
("sure, the war is under control, don't worry... the russians have send a couple of ships with God know what kind of weapons... but don't panic! NE PANIQUEZ PAS !!!)

... and another with a very drunken and angered Yeltsin making incoherent but rather scary threats, shouting at the (terrified) anchorman puppet PPDA then singing the russian anthem... and making drunk but menacing gestures...

"Nous autres.... RUUUUUSSSSSESS...!!!! ne tolèrerons pas... AGRESSSSION... !!!!!! envers... pays amis !!"
("We... RUSSIAN people... !!! can't tolerate... NATO AGRESSION !!!!... against... friendly country !")

My all time favorite joke related to Yeltsin was

"At least the IMF has found what the russians did with all ten billions of dollars pumped as loans, into their country..." (brief pause) "they used the dollars to stuff Boris Yeltsin !"
(Yeltsin puppet is then seen, grossly inflated and seemingly on the brink of imploding; half dead with glassy eyes - and dollars bills in its ears, nose, and mouth)

ROTFL that was pure genius !
 
Last edited:

Hood

ACCESS: Top Secret
Staff member
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2006
Messages
2,845
Reaction score
3,534
Plus the A-6Fs survive too I presume? (A-12 probably doomed anyway)
The A-6F was cancelled in 1988 in favor of more focus on the ATA/A-12, so it's still dead in the water (unfortunately).

The A-12 is probably doomed, too. That died because of irrecoverable technical/program problems, and not the Peace Dividend. NATF was in a similar boat.

As for the F-14D... maybe? It all depends on if the US Navy can sufficiently make their case about the F-14's long-range interception capability to overcome Congress' boner for the Hornet.

Regardless, there's probably at least some progress on a serious next-gen attacker program by 1995. Enough to avoid it getting sucked into the JSF program with the CALF program? Who knows.
But wasn't Boeing building composite wing sets to re-wing A-6Es anyway? Presumably there might have been a window to order more sets and re-instate the A-6F? Even the A-6G upgrade might have been worthwhile?
But as you say the Hornet lobby might be just too strong and the A-6 was probably viewed as old-skool subsonic loser compared to shiny new Hornets (after all they blew up the Alien mega-craft in Independence Day using just AMRAAMs due to how cool they were :rolleyes:).

But yes, I do agree that with this scenario it implies that the Warsaw Pact implodes in 1989 and historical and that the Soviets began pulling out in 1990 - how the peoples of the USSR repressed the same desire for change is open to question - so for all intents and purposes the West 'won' and the Cold War is at best a chilly war. Probably still wary eyes on each other, perhaps a bit more touchy on the Soviet side given their buffer zone has gone. Its doubtful the Soviet economy 1990-95 can do much given its Comecon partners in crime have stuck two fingers up at Moscow and are entering the painful realities of becoming free market economies.
Likewise the cushy aid to Havana, Angola and all those other client states is likely to be curtailed and so lessen some of the global reach of Soviet military forces.

Iraq 1990 could well see two invasions under the UN umbrella - the historical from Saudi Arabia and a northern one from the USSR (assuming the Caucasus region remains stable enough to risk it). I can't see Gorby being a huge Saddam supporter and might win some political brownie points in helping out. Maybe another round of SALT would follow for the mid-90s?
 

CV12Hornet

ACCESS: Confidential
Joined
Jan 8, 2021
Messages
152
Reaction score
306
But wasn't Boeing building composite wing sets to re-wing A-6Es anyway? Presumably there might have been a window to order more sets and re-instate the A-6F? Even the A-6G upgrade might have been worthwhile?
But as you say the Hornet lobby might be just too strong and the A-6 was probably viewed as old-skool subsonic loser compared to shiny new Hornets (after all they blew up the Alien mega-craft in Independence Day using just AMRAAMs due to how cool they were :rolleyes:).
The re-winging had been conceived during the mid-80s and was ongoing as of 1991, and was a much less extensive program than the A-6F or even G. In an environment where every tactical aircraft program was under intense scrutiny and threat of cancellation, resuming the A-6F is a threat to the Navy's attempts to acquire a true next-gen deep-strike aircraft, and thus would not go through.

Further, the new wings had issues of their own, namely that due to their stiffness characteristics they transferred more force to the fuselage and increased fuselage fatigue. This is one of the reasons the re-winged Intruders were retired so quickly.
 

Lascaris

ACCESS: Confidential
Joined
Nov 15, 2008
Messages
160
Reaction score
161
Worse, Serbia's relationship with Russia is historic and unavoidable.
By that logic Serbia was also a historic ally of France better known for its... poetry before Slobodan.
 

Lascaris

ACCESS: Confidential
Joined
Nov 15, 2008
Messages
160
Reaction score
161
The question I uhm see unanswered is why has the Soviet Union held out to 1995. Has perestroika and glasses also begun 4 years late? A Soviet Union that nominally exists a few more years and one were the endgame begins years later (Chernenko lives for 5 years? ) are entirely different kettle of fish.
 

Kat Tsun

I really should change my personal text
Joined
Jun 16, 2013
Messages
307
Reaction score
267
Now that I think about, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan might last into the late '90's if the USSR implodes a few years late. Much like South Vietnam they only died when the sugar daddy stopped sending guns and ammo. The USSR would be unlikely to do this to people on its actual border though, and I think the USSR was still giving a good amount of aid into 1990 or so.

That could possibly change things.
 
Last edited:

Similar threads

Top