tl;dr incoming There are quite few reasons for this. Not all NATO/Western stuff looks exactly identical, either. Look at a Mirage III and the F-4 Phantom II, or a British Chieftain and a Leopard 1. Different arms manufacturers/designers have different philosophies and interpretations about what's needed on the battlefield, and not all armed forces have the same exact requirements. Hell, getting NATO to standardize to some degree was a pain in the butt, with every major member basically operating equipment made according to their own industrial standards trough the 50's and 60's. A British nut wouldn't fit in an American bolt, and an American cartridge wouldn't fit in a French gun. Now add a system of a weird planned economy where resources weren't necessarily used/allocated according to their cost, but trough a mix of meeting fixed production quotas and political manoeuvering, where most basic research was harnessed to military use, and where OKBs (experimental design bureus) procured the final product. These were often lead by an influential engineer, and although officially numbered, were commonly referred to by the founders' names (Mikoyan-Gurevich, Klimov, Chelomey, etc.). In the USSR, OKBs competed for a contract in a similar manner to the US by submitting protorypes for evaluation by the military. There were notable differences, though: financial benefits were obviously limited because the OKB had no shareholders to please, so they essentially competed for popularity amongst the Soviet political leadership and military high command. Certain influential members of the politburo were known to have "pet" bureaux. Also, the OKBs that lost the defense contract were often ordered to submit their research and other resources to the winning OKB. In some instances, rival OKBs (OKBs were nearly always attached to production facilities) were assigned to manufacture the same product. Then there was the Soviet military that had some very different requirements from their NATO counterparts. The European theatre was quite central to operations on both sides. There wasn't one instance between 1945 and 1991 where NATO ground forces would realistically have been on the offense at the start of hostilities, even Tom Clancy knew this. The Soviets didn't have to worry about voters complaining about the kind of defense expenditures that, in the free world, existed only in the wettest of Reagan's dreams. They didn't have to worry about Greenpeace activists chaining themselves to some fence (would have yielded hilarious results) or some Bavarian old lady complaining about the noise and soot from the tanks on the way to an exercise. Generally speaking, peacetime performance wasn't that much of an issue on the other side of the Iron Curtain. And there's the key difference imo, optimization for peacetime performance vs. projected wartime performance. If a plane crashes during a peacetime exercise (happens regularly), people are expected to do some explaining. If this happens too often, or if the plane is a money-pit because it needs complete overhauls between 500-hour intervals, heads will roll. Not necessarily in the USSR. If a quarter of the Air Force is going to get bombed on the ground during the opening hours of the conflict, and 80% of Airfields west of Minsk are out of action, it's more important that the aircraft can take off from a potato field and still go Mach 2 to intercept those Tornados that are dropping Kinder surprise eggs on your advancing GFSG elements, known to get all too easily distracted by capitalist pleasures, than it would be to require 50% less maintenance during the aircraft's lifespan. Ok maybe the 50% is too kind, the Mi-8s in Finnish service, required 40 hours of maintenance per flight hour. In comparison, the NH-90 requires 1 hour of maintenance per 20 flight hours (in theory). My math says that it's about 7 million % difference in required maintenance. The reality is very different. The NH-90 continues to be a faulty POS, being 30% more expensive to operate per flight hour than the F/A-18Ds (!) @ 16 000 €/hour being a lot more expensive than the Mi-8 ever was. In fact, the Mi-8 was never designed to be maintained at all. When the flight hours in the Mi-8 engines were full, the Soviets just replaced the engines and the whole rotor assembly and used the old ones for scrap. But unlike the Soviet Ground Forces, the Finns actually had to pay for spares so we had to improvise. Taking apart structures for servicing that aren't designed for that is time-consuming. The T-72M was another "gem" in Finnish service. It had a shitty gearbox that would only work smoothly at high speeds going forwards, reverse gear offering max. brisk walking pace. That's a huge handicap in defensive tank warfare where you're expected to reverse out of a hull-down position as quickly as possible. An engine replacement took a day, compared to the 15-30 min in a Leo 2. The radios were a ***** too, cumbersome vacuum tube units weighing 25 kilos. A totally incompetent design then, one would think. Not really. The Soviets weren't really big on the "defensive warfare" thing, bad vibes from WW2. That's the reason for not having much of a reverse gear, as well as the army having like 2 ARVs in total. NATO needed these ARVs and they needed tanks that could be fixed quickly on the battlefield because every NATO tank left behind would be used to make more Soviet ones. Soviet tank divisions didn't have this kind of features but they had lots snorkels and fuel drums, mobile bridges and minesweeping vehicles. Tanks, divisions and whole armies being designed to penetrate hard and deep, expected to take heavy casualties and continue pushing on. If resistance got a bit too fierce, a tactical nuke would have been used. That's where the grandma's radios come in. You're expected to lose a significant amount of armor to cheap modern ATGMs, so don't make the tank too expensive and complicated. Whatever you do, don't make it a big target. Use the money to put in expensive gyrostabilisers and an autoloader so you can fire effectively while going 40 km/h cross country. Don't worry too much about putting a carousel of propellant in combustible cases below the crew, because everyone in the motherland knows how to operate a T-72. This is also a very good way to save on funeral costs. It's the same story with small arms (and crew-served weapons, machine guns, autocannons, whatever), really. While many Soviet weapon systems sacrificed reliability and serviceability for outright performance, it's pretty much the opposite with most of their guns; the priority is that the weapon will always cycle and it's easy to assemble and disassemble, even if that makes it less accurate/heavier, etc. Wartime performance. My dad used to serve in an air defense battery just when they started swapping the ZU-23-2s to Oerlikon KDs. The new Swiss system was a shitload more accurate and effective, and could engage targets flying twice as high. But the computerized system would simply refuse to fire if it was dirty, overheating, or simply on a bad mood. The Soviet gun had a spread the size of Leningrad but it would just fire better if you poured some manure on it. In a high-intensity conflict with NATO, I suspect that a gun would occasionally get a bit grimy. Or that a barrel would sometimes overheat. There might be even some electronic warfare involved! Nothing is worse for the guys on the ground than a gun that goes "click" instead of "bang". The instant an enemy helicopter appears above the treeline, or some IFVs come roaring towards you, you want as much steel flying in that direction as possible, a minute ago. Doesn't really matter what the most optimal firing solution for given weather conditions might have been, when the 2-second window to engage the helo is gone and there's a Hellfire coming your way. The Soviet command didn't trust their conscripts with pretty much anything. Unit autonomy was shit, and the equipment was designed in a way that didn't require tampering with them. Case in point, throwaway helicopter engines & rotor assembly and disposable tank. These same requirements meant that certain hardware needed to be extemely durable and reliable. Small arms, crew-served weapons, trucks, generators, whatever. A professional US marine can be expected to properly maintain his weapon, but can a semi-literate Kyrgyz conscript who has never been outside his kolkhoz before military service? Probably not. Granted, there were some real dog egg designs in the USSR. And there was a lot of technical backwardness that compromised other designs, especially in electronics that was the achilles heel of the Soviet Union troughout its existence. But too often a piece of Soviet equipment is discredited for being crap, when it might have well have been the best tool for the job it was designed to do. Not in US service, not in German service, but in Soviet service. And even countries with radically different requirements from the USSR, that did operate both Eastern and Western equipment trough the Cold War years, notably Yugoslavia, Finland and Israel, did find Soviet equipment useful. Sometimes very frustrating, other times a life-saver.