Although many experts in military strategy have argued that the wars of the future will not be wars on the ground, but clashes under the sign of artificial intelligence and biochemical weaponry, governments continue to develop equipment for ever more sophisticated combat for their military forces. This is notably the case of Russia, which announced, through the intermediary of the state-owned Rostec, that it was developing the new generation of its high-tech combat armor Sotnik.
State defense giant Rostec has announced that the company is developing the fourth generation of its Sotnik, or “Centurion” combat armor. The third generation Sotnik suit currently includes “ completely new personal protective equipment and ammunition, providing light armor defense and dramatically increasing the soldier’s armament », Indicates the Jamestown Foundation.
” The next-generation equipment will consist of a fundamentally new set of technologies, including the latest achievements of the Russian defense industry, involving robotic equipment and integrated information exchange systems. Today we have started the first stage of development – defining the tactical and technical requirements Says engineer Bekkhan Ozdoev from Rostec.
While Rostec’s official post was vague regarding the specifics of the new system, Ozdoev previously stated that the fourth generation Sotnik armor will consist of a lightweight polyethylene fiber and an armor coating designed to withstand direct fire from a .50 M2 Browning caliber. ” The equipment will not restrict movement and allow the soldier to support the extra weight needed to perform special missions “, According to Ozdoev.
A technology based on the third generation Sotnik armor
While the prospect of a futuristic combat suit capable of stopping a .50 caliber bullet seems like something out of science fiction, the Russian military is “totally serious about it,” says Samuel Bendett, a research-focused analyst. on Russian military developments. Indeed, the third-generation Sotnik equipment that Rostec is currently deploying is itself intended to replace the high-tech Ratnik, or Warrior combat equipment – which has been in development for over a decade and has been in use throughout the world. fight over the past five years – by 2025.
The Ratnik suit, which consists of 10 subsystems and 59 individual components, includes a modernized bulletproof vest designed to withstand 7.62mm shells, a helmet with a special eye monitor fitted with a thermal night vision monocular and a flashlight, as well as integrated communication systems. It also includes an autonomous heater, a backpack, an individual water filter, a gas mask and a medical kit.
More than 300,000 sets of the different iterations of Ratnik combat equipment have already been delivered to the Russian Defense Ministry in the past eight years. While Rosetec does not explicitly say how long research and development will take for the Sotnik combat suit, the company already has a solid foundation now that two generations of Ratnik combat armor have been combat tested by the forces. Russian.
Indeed, the feasibility of the Sotnik is directly linked to the success of the Ratnik, according to Bendett, to such an extent that the element “integrated systems of information exchange” highlighted by Ozdoev “is not new either and s ‘will probably build on existing tactical systems currently in use.’
The development of an advanced combat exoskeleton
Some futuristic abilities actually appear at hand. Rostec unveiled in September a specialized exoskeleton for the Ratnik combat suit, designed to support 80 kilograms for the average soldier, and a new “Stormer” combat exoskeleton, designed to carry 60 kilograms during assault operations.
Rostec has not announced a date, but the technological advancement of the project appears to surpass the United States when it comes to future infantry combat systems. Indeed, the Pentagon has been pursuing the goal of a motorized exoskeleton for almost half a century, with its latest project, the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) of the US Special Operations Command.
However, combat armor is still not fully integrated after its unveiling in 2019. Where the United States has remained stuck with system integration issues, Russia has benefited in the development of its exoskeleton from its ability to field test such equipment, in the context of war-torn Syria.
Video from the Task and Purpose specialty channel regarding the current state of development of combat armor and exoskeletons: