The defense industry is an integral part of Russia's national security. Its capabilities are now required to fully implement the increased government orders. The early 1990s with their political changes have been, for many enterprises of the domestic defense industry, a difficult period of adapting to new economic realities, with their efficiency having decreased tenfold. As a result of the revisions in the state policy in the field of security and defense since the mid-2000s, there is a renewal of fixed assets in many enterprises of the Russian defense industry, the processes of intra-industry integration have started, aimed at consolidating technological competences, operational and financial capabilities, design schools, the scientific and technological reserves managed by the state-controlled holding companies. Since the end of 2014, a policy of import substitution has been introduced and actively implemented. It is obvious that the Russian defense industry has been and continues to be the driving force of the Russian industry. The main methods for managing the enterprises of the military-industrial complex need some transformation; innovative approaches that take into account the complex military-political and socio-economic factors need to be found and implemented. One of the problems of the Russian economy is that the private civilian sector is generally unwilling to finance innovation, while the potential of the defense industry can be widely used for the technological improvement of the entire national industry by applying the well-known international practices. In this regard, it is clearly necessary to ensure the development and implementation of measures aimed at the development of innovative activity of defense enterprises. The results are of interest not only for government specialists (represented by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation), but can be useful for the administrators and managers of industrial enterprises and organizations.