The Russian military continues to push the envelope in next generation combat technology, now promising a future fourth-generation body armor suit that will eventually protect its soldier against even the powerful .50 caliber round. Rostec, Russia’s state-owned defense conglomerate, announced that it is developing the fourth generation of its already formidable Sotnik, or ‘Centurion,’ battle armor.
Without delving into too many specifics in the press release, Rostec’s Bekkhan Ozdoev had previously stated, according to Task & Purpose, “that the fourth-generation Sotnik armor will consist of lightweight polyethylene fiber and armor plating that is engineered to withstand a direct shot from a .50 caliber M2 Browning.”
“The gear will not restrict movement and will allow you to take the extra weight necessary to perform special missions,” said Ozdoev.
Though a battle suit capable of deflecting a .50 caliber round seems like something out of science fiction, the Russian military is “totally serious about this,” said Samuel Bendett, a research analyst focused on Russian military developments at the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA).
While the prospect of this futuristic combat armor is worrisome for U.S. and NATO defense planners, the current Russian third-generation Sotnik armor suit, planned for 2025 is impressive enough. This system consists of “entirely new personal protective equipment and ammunition, offering light armor defense and increasing the soldier’s armament by several times,” according to the Jamestown Foundation.
The Sotnik kit is intended to replace the earlier Ratnik, or ‘Warrior’ package, already battle-tested in Syria. More than 300,000 sets of the various versions of the Ratnik combat gear have already been delivered to the Russian Ministry of Defense since 2013, according to the corporation.
And the current second generation Ratnik-2 system, notes Task & Purpose, is no slouch either. It consists of:
…10 subsystems and 59 individual components, includes modernized body armor designed to withstand 7.62mm rounds, a helmet with a special eye monitor outfitted with a thermal night vision monocular and flashlight, and integrated communication systems. It “also features a self-contained heater, a backpack, an individual water filter, a gas mask, and a medical kit,” according to Army Technology.
But the third-generation Sotnik system rolling out by 2025 will feature a number of impressive innovations, reports Jamestown Foundation:
…including anti-mine boots, an anti-thermal suit to “hide” soldiers from enemy detection, and an anti-radar element. The Sotnik will also integrate the wearer of the system with automated command and control and “micro-drones,” allowing gathered images to be transmitted in real time to the helmet visor or safety glasses. On the electronic glasses, the soldier will see commands, terrain maps and additional relevant data.
No timeline has been provided for the even more futuristic fourth-generation Sotnik ‘Centurion’ system to be deployed, though it will likely not be seen before 2030. Nevertheless, the Russian military appears to be far ahead of the U.S. – at least in terms of developing these advanced infantry combat systems.