The set of combat equipment "Warrior" was not created in one day, and the process of its creation cannot be called simple. However, as a result of this work, completely new equipment was created in Russia, which exceeded the expectations of many military personnel. For the first time in history, the Russian armed forces received at their disposal not only a set of protective equipment for a soldier, consisting of a bulletproof vest and a helmet, but also a whole protective complex with an advanced control and communication system. At the same time, more and more new details are being revealed today about the second and third generation of the "Ratnik" combat equipment complex.
We can say that in fact, with the appearance of the "Warrior" in the ground forces, a new era began. The kit is constantly being modernized, work is underway on new generations. As part of the upgrades already carried out, the original version was seriously improved: the designers had to re-create more than 20 elements of combat equipment and 17 more elements that provide the actual protection of the fighter from bullets and shrapnel on the battlefield, without taking into account various devices, according to the official website of the Zvezda TV channel "Owned by the Russian Ministry of Defense.
Special requirements apply to the Arctic version of the Ratnik outfit set. A life support system was created especially for it, taking into account the specifics of extreme external operating conditions. We are talking not only about warmed samples of footwear and outerwear of soldiers, but also about more technological things. For example, only in the Arctic version of the vest from the "Warrior" set, three heating elements were sewn. Also, this option is complemented by heated insoles. The heat elements of the suit are made on the basis of a carbon film coated with copper-silver sputtering. Heaters are located in the chest and waist of the fighter. In working condition, they emit infrared waves with a length of 6-15 microns, which heats the tissue. The heating elements are powered by a lithium-ion battery, it lasts for 4 hours of continuous operation. The total supply voltage is 8 volts, which is safe for the human body. According to the assurances of the developers, such a vest can operate in 5 modes of different intensities. It is supposed to be used as an additional source of heat when soldiers perform special tasks, for example, observation, which requires a long state of immobility of the body.
Soldiers in the "Warrior" outfit, photo: cniitm.ru
The Arctic option has already been evaluated by Russian border guards, who wore new uniforms even in 40-degree frosts. Earlier it was reported that the FSB will acquire about three thousand sets of "Ratnik-Arctic" for border guards serving in the Russian Arctic regions, including in such harsh climatic places as Franz Josef Land. It is also important that the cost of such a set of equipment, which is characterized by increased wear resistance (it is difficult to damage or tear it), is at the level of 50 thousand rubles. This makes the kit not only high-tech and reliable, but also relatively inexpensive, which is especially important for the Russian budget.
And more recently it became known that the sets of equipment of the second and third generation will receive an exoskeleton and a "smart" multifunctional helmet. According to the TASS news agency, at present TsNIITOCHMASH specialists are developing the second-generation Ratnik outfit, which will receive a passive exoskeleton that reduces the load on the fighter's musculoskeletal system. And the set "Warrior-3" is planned to include an active exoskeleton with batteries and motors, it will have to make the fighters not only stronger and more enduring, but also faster. It is reported that research work on the Ratnik-3 kit has already been completed. Currently, experts are actively discussing the technical requirements that apply to the outfit of a soldier of the future next generations. At the same time, prototypes of the Ratnik-3 outfit with an active exoskeleton can be created by 2025.
And here it is worth noting that the exoskeleton has long stepped from the world of fantasy into our modern world. The first work on exoskeletons began in different countries of the world back in the 1960s and 70s. The experience of hostilities clearly showed that servicemen need auxiliary structures during long transitions and marches, assault and special operations. According to the memoirs of the former commander of Soviet troops in Afghanistan, Lieutenant General Boris Gromov, in the difficult mountainous terrain, soldiers and officers of the Soviet Army had to carry on their shoulders up to 40-60 kg of various equipment, ammunition and provisions. With such a load on his shoulders, and even in mountainous areas under the scorching sun, it was difficult just to move, let alone fight. That is why, according to Gromov, many commanders turned a blind eye to the fact that some soldiers left their heavy equipment - helmets, bullet-proof vests - at their location before going out to the mountains.
Passive exoskeleton for the new generation of "Ratnik", photo: cniitm.ru
At the same time, the creation of a convenient and reliable exoskeleton was delayed not only in our country, but also in other states. Russian and foreign engineers have relied on the lightening of small arms, military equipment and ammunition. In addition, over the past decades, a qualitative leap has been made towards improving protective equipment (helmets and body armor), which lose weight without losing their protective properties. At the same time, even today, servicemen who have modern equipment on their hands (the same "Ratnik" set), simply incomparable in functionality with the ammunition of the 1980s, still face serious physical stress. The need for exoskeletons has not disappeared, but rather re-entered the agenda, especially given the latest advances in science and technology.
The first prototype exoskeleton for the promising set of equipment "Warrior" was presented at the forum "Army-2018". The presented exoskeleton allowed the fighters to easily carry loads weighing up to 50 kg. Oleg Faustov, the chief designer for the life support system of combat equipment for military personnel of TsNIItochmash JSC (Klimovsk), told RT journalists about the new development and its capabilities. According to him, the "working" exoskeleton presented in 2018 with a new helmet and goggles that can display a map of the area, allows you to implement those functions that were previously unavailable. So nothing interferes with a soldier in an exoskeleton: he can lie down, sit down, stand up, take any position, Faustov noted.
Demonstrated at the Army-2018 forum, the exoskeleton was a mechanical lever-hinge device that mimics human joints. Auxiliary structures encircle the fighter's back, shoulders and legs. This example of a passive exoskeleton significantly enhances the physical capabilities of the soldier, providing protection for the joints. The prototype shown was made of carbon fiber, a very strong yet lightweight composite material. Depending on the configuration, the weight of such an exoskeleton can be from 4 to 8 kg. According to Faustov, the device created by TsNIITOCHMASH specialists is able to significantly simplify the life of soldiers. The design is practically invisible on the soldier and is devoid of an electronic component, servos, various sensors, we are talking about the so-called "passive exoskeleton". Such an exoskeleton is easier to maintain, more reliable, lightweight, and also completely autonomous. It can be easily put on within one minute and completely removed in just 20 seconds. To adapt a soldier to such an exoskeleton, two-week training sessions are sufficient.
Passive exoskeleton for the new generation of "Ratnik"
As Oleg Faustov noted, the exoskeleton presented was created for specific tasks. For example, if a soldier has to be on his feet all day, he will of course need such a device. For example, it will definitely come in handy for sappers whose modern protective suits weigh more than 80 kg. Also, the chief designer for the life support system of military equipment for military personnel of JSC TsNIITOCHMASH admits that the exoskeleton presented is not a universal invention, it cannot fit all units of the Russian Armed Forces. So the presented design does not allow the soldier to make sudden movements or land. At the same time, it is known that the TsNIItochmash exoskeleton has already undergone experimental operation in the Russian army, as well as in the internal affairs bodies. According to Sergei Abramov, industrial director of the Rostec weapons cluster, the prototype was tested in real combat conditions.
The Russian exoskeleton, made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic, helps to evenly distribute the load on the body and is easily adjusted to the "dimensions" of the average soldier, helping him to carry up to 50 kg of combined arms and special equipment without significant problems in any conditions, be it the flat terrain of the central zone of Russia, the snowy Arctic desert or mountains. At the same time, the product is lightweight, which allows the exoskeleton to be transported along with the usual equipment, and its everyday wear does not cause discomfort to the fighter.
Military expert Yuri Knutov is confident that the brainchild of the Klimovsk designers will be useful to engineering units and military personnel who have to overcome various obstacles and carry a heavy load, for example, a sniper rifle and ammunition. In addition, the exoskeleton can be an indispensable aid in the evacuation of wounded soldiers from the battlefield. At the same time, Knutov is convinced that a soldier will not be able to participate in hostilities in such a "passive exoskeleton", despite its apparent simplicity and lightness, such a design still constrains the movement of the fighter. At the same time, the expert does not doubt that this area of work is very promising and in the future an exoskeleton will be created in Russia, which is suitable for conducting a full-fledged battle.
Possible appearance of a multifunctional helmet for the new generation of "Ratnik"
Another innovation that awaits the Ratnik equipment in the future is a multifunctional protective helmet. The developers of the third generation equipment kit are ready to abandon the standard Sagittarius-type electronic tablets. Communications systems and a tactical computer will be built right into the helmet, where they will be as well protected as a soldier's head. In this case, all operational information will be displayed directly on the bulletproof visor of the helmet. In the future, a set of equipment will also have to receive a special coating mimicking the terrain, similar to that already used to camouflage military equipment. The special material, characterized by low energy consumption, will help the fighter to blend in with the surrounding background and even depict the foliage waving under the gusts of wind.
The multifunctional helmet will replace mini-computers, since it will be able to display all the information necessary in battle, as well as a map of the area, directly on the display located in the protective glass in front of the fighter's eyes. The closest analogy is the modern pilot's helmet. However, the helmet will not only provide the soldier with the necessary information, but will also reliably protect his head from bullets and shrapnel. Experts are confident that the information displayed on the multifunctional display, located in front of the soldier's eyes, will help him to quickly assimilate all the data, reducing the time spent on decision-making. In a combat situation, this is especially important.
In the future, a multifunctional protective helmet from the "Ratnik-3" outfit with a built-in communication system, control, recognition "friend or foe" will also be able to assess in real time the condition of a fighter by physiological parameters. The helmet will receive built-in thermal imaging cameras and a set of various sensors that will help assess the situation around the owner of the "Ratnik" kit in real time. As a result, each soldier himself will become a kind of "sensor" on the battlefield, not only receiving information and target designation, but also transmitting data to the higher command.