Russia may soon create a contingent of 300,000 ‘Iron Man’ soldiers for future wars. Russia’s premier defense contractor Rostec has delivered around 300,000 exoskeleton suits to the country’s military.
The technology involved in these suits enables them to carry heavy equipment without affecting their movement. Known as ‘Ratnik combat outfits’, these suits have been supplied by the Central Research Institute of Precision Machine-Building (TsNIITochMash), which is a part of Rostec, over a period of eight years.
Ratnik Combat Outfits
These are basically wearable mobile machines powered by a system of electric motors, levers, hydraulics, pneumatics, or a blend of technologies allowing limb movement with increased strength and endurance.
The suits are designed to provide ample support to the soldier’s or any other operator’s back while sensing his or her motion and sending signaling the motors to manage the gears.
The combat outfits assist the soldiers in movement and helping them lift and hold heavy items, which would usually not be possible for them to carry.
Although not exactly a power suit as shown in superhero movies like Iron Man, the Ratnik combat outfits come close to bridging that gap in the future.
The number of suits outlines the rate at which the Russians are looking to modernize their military, with state corporation Rostec, stating, “The Central Research Institute of Precision Machine-Building (TsNIITochMash) of the state corporation Rostec has delivered almost 300,000 Ratnik combat outfits to the troops over eight years.”
According to the company, Ratnik’s main specific feature is the ability to adapt the combat outfit to the physical properties of a serviceman and the assigned combat tasks. Aside from the baseline gear, the commander’s version and the outfits for snipers, machine-gun operators and the crews of fighting vehicles have been developed.
The Ratnik unpowered suit uses springs and intelligent engineering to take off the load from the shoulders of their bearer, with reports suggesting that the soldier possesses the ability to even carry out long patrols carrying up to 100 pounds easily.
The American TALOS suit
Like Russia, the United States was also reported to have been working on its own exoskeleton program called ‘TALOS’. The outfit was being planned as a futuristic infantry combat suit that would be bulletproof and capable of mounting weapons and monitor vitals.
However, with Pentagon not being able to meet the technological demands of making such a super-suit, the project was forced to be shut down.
Russia, on the other hand, has made progress while taking shorter steps in order to keep its project on track. One of the advantages of the Ratnik suits is that they are unpowered, therefore are not plagued with problems of lack of power shortage.
This was the opposite of the case of the failed TALOS program, under which the suits were built using hydraulics and motors that would work on electricity and leave their bearer stranded once the battery is dead in a few hours.
Another advantage of the Russian suits is that they are already been used in the automotive industry before, with reports suggesting that it has led to a reduction of back and shoulder injuries along with increased efficiency in operations.
According to Rostec Industrial Director Bekkhan Ozdoyev, the Ratnik combat outfit integrates over 60 elements including weapons, sights, individual protection gear, sets of autonomous sources of heat, communications devices, and an active hearing protection system.
“Today military specialists are developing operational requirements for the Sotnik gear, a principally new soldier of the future combat outfit. We expect to get the specifications for its development already in 2021,” said Ozdoyev.
The combat outfit is a system of advanced protective and communications equipment, weapons, and ammunition. It provides the soldier with the ability to constantly receive updates regarding battlefield situations.
Moreover, the suit is equipped with a backpack, a self-contained heater, an individual water filter, a gas mask, and a medical kit.
Rostec is currently developing an advanced Ratnik-3 combat gear with an integral exoskeleton and a helmet visor-mounted target designation system.
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