Russia has begun first phase development of its next-generation battle armor for field soldiers. While still in the works, the gear is expected to be the world’s lightest bullet-proof armor, resistant even to rounds capable of damaging even light armored vehicles, according to state-run outlet Russia Beyond.
A press release by Russian state corporation Rostec revealed that the company will be responsible for research and development into the new fourth-generation combat gear, called “Sotnik.”
“Thanks to the use of innovative materials and combining the functions of individual elements, the weight of the set will be reduced by 20 percent, amounting to about 20 kilograms [44 pounds],” head of Rostec Chemezov claimed in a separate press release last June 2019.
Plenty of tech capabilities are slated for Sotnik, with Rostec’s industrial director, Bekkhan Ozdoev, hinting at “including roboting equipment and integrated systems for exchanging information.”
Sotnik’s Defense Capabilities
Sotnik’s defense capabilities will exceed that of all existing body armor plates, as it can protect the soldier against direct fire from the .50 BMG, according to Russia Beyond. This is a bullet capable of penetrating light-armored vehicles at a distance of up to two kilometers.
The armor will be made out of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene fiber. “The gear will not restrict movement and will allow you to take [on] the extra weight necessary to perform special missions,” Rostec said.
The armor will also be able to absorb the shock of incoming fire, which can kill a soldier even if the armor is not penetrated.
An active titanium exoskeleton with mini-electric motors is also in the works. The corporation is currently working on viable power sources for this new feature.
Replacing The Ratnik
Sotnik is set to replace the Ratnik-2, which protects up to 90 percent of a soldier’s body with armor weighing between 16 to 35 lbs (7.2 to 15.8 kg). The main vest is resistant to 7.62×39 mm and 7.62×54 mm rounds.
Additionally, the Ratnik-2 is covered with infrared-blocking materials from head to toe so soldiers can avoid detection by various infrared equipment.
Overall, Ratnik-2 weighs from 40 to 50 lbs (18.1 to 22.7 kg) — however, this is offset by a passive carbon-fiber exoskeleton which shares in the heavy physical burden. The exoskeleton is also responsible for protecting the wearer’s spine and joints from wear and tear. It does not need power or electricity to function.
The fourth-generation Sotnik is expected to replace the Ratnik in 2025.