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The Russian “Ratnik” Infantry Program

The Russian “Ratnik” Infantry Program

Connectivity, easiness, and effectiveness. Being heavily involved in the military equipment and tactical gear industry, we love to assess, review, and further understand new military or combat attire and updates, especially when the add to the soldier’s overall ability.

If you haven’t yet heard about the Russian Ratnik Soldier System, prepare to be amazed. This change and overhaul in Russian armed forces not only allowed the soldiers to become further connected with each other, but it also led to a new and improved level of dismounted troop equipment.

Mannequin in a full Russian Ratnik Uniform

Keep reading to learn more about the timeline, trials, and wins, as well as overview of the protection gear and equipment that was developed.

What is “Ratnik”?

Before diving into the gear that make up the combat system, it’s important to first understand, at a high level, what exactly the Ratnik program is. Now, Ratnik is a Russian infantry combat system that was designed to improve the soldiers and their effectiveness as a team and individually, while in combat. In order to achieve their desired results, the Russian Army created upgraded uniforms and technology in terms of; body armour, helmets, monitors for their eyes, thermal vision, night vision and flashlights, as well as various forms of modernized communication and headphones. As you can see, a great deal of work, effort, and time went into the program to help the soldiers and improve their abilities in combat, from all angles.

This system also includes something known as GLONASS navigation module. This module allows the leader of the squad or troops to see where his or her soldiers are located, all on a small computer that is no bigger than a book. While we’ll dive into more details on this later, the main purpose of this navigation tool is again, to ensure the team is well connected and working effectively together.

When Did Russia Start Using Ratnik?

While this program was fully absorbed into the Russian Airforce in 2014, it initially started about 3 years earlier, in 2011. The first initial modular system was presented to the leaders at the MAKS air show.

Having seen the overall idea and connectivity that this system could bring, Russia moved into talks and state trials with Sagem of France, Germany’s Rheinmetall and Italy’s Finmeccanica, as they wanted to see the possibility of procuring this modern component system for their soldiers.

Two Russian Soldiers wearing their Ratnik gear

It took two years after initial talks and meetings for the original Ratnik program to be accepted and brought into Russia’s airborne force. The original system was comprised of 40 different components that were tailored to meet the overall goals of the armed force.

A year later, in September of 2015, Russia then was provided with the latest version of the Ratnik Program gear which was deemed as Ratnik-2. As you can imagine the purpose of the latest version was to update, tweak and improve the components of the initial launch.

In 2021, Russia then received and began to integrate the third generation of the Ratnik program. While this program also included updates and improvements, it also came with various biomechanical tools, such as exoskeletons.

As of today, March of 2022, the Russian armed forces are currently using the third generation of Ratnik, and there are no talks about an update or launch for a fourth generation. However, as we have seen over the years, the teams developing the program are quick to stay on top of the gear, providing fast and necessary updates, when applicable.

Ratnik System: High-level Overview

Now it’s time to get into the details of what this system entails and how it is used in the armed forces, so let’s dive into it.

The entire system comes with 40 pieces and includes everything from the types of firearms that are used to the body armour worn and the navigation devices, as we mentioned earlier before. Unlike other systems, this program can actually be used by all types of soldiers in regular infantry, such as machine gunners, drives, scouts and of course, rocket launchers.

The uniform or “Ratnik” can be worn and used for actions in conditions at any time of the day and is 6 kilos lighter than FELIN (which is the French analogue that used to be used by the soldiers).

The uniform, which we will dive into more heavily in a moment, comes equipped with all the necessities that a solider will need as well. From food, to water, and a tent, the user can rest assured knowing that they are well covered, and it will only weigh about 20kgs.

Breaking Down the Advanced Uniform

Like every other component that is available in this system, the uniform is elevated and modernized as well. The uniform, which of course, is camouflage, is not only less visible to the infrared cameras, but it also is made out of reinforced-fiber fabric that helps to protect the soldier against open fire and shrapnel.

In addition to the uniform itself, the body armor that is provided is reinforced by ceramic and hybrid inserts. This prevents armor-piercing bullets from penetration as well as prevents trauma. As you can see; everything has been thought of an elevated.

Museum that highlights all of the gear that is used in the Russian Ratnik program

Taking it to the next level, the uniform is also fitted with special sensors that are designed to send information about the soldier’s medical state to medics. These sensors can actually record their heart rate, blood filling, and respiratory rate, again living into that practice of having the whole entire team interconnected and in good communication. When a soldier’s levels change, indicating he or she may be injured, the sensors then trigger an alarm, in which the medics are then alerted of the change in standing, and are given the GPS coordinates of the injured individual.

This not only allows soldiers to receive help immediately, but also allows for prioritization of evacuation of the wounded. All in all, it allows for better servicing and care of the soldiers.

Ratnik; Created for Protection

What’s most incredible about this system is that the 40 pieces provided protect almost 90% of the soldiers’ body. But it doesn’t come at a light weight! The entire system, including the body armor and care, weights about 19 – 20kg for the full program and 15 kg for the basic.

That’s a great deal of weight for a soldier to carry. But when you consider the protection, connection, and possibilities that are provided from the gear, the extra weight is surely worth it.

Connected Through Communication Technology

The difference between the Ratnik system and many others, is the constant connection and communication (either verbal or non-verbal) between the soldiers or the squad. In addition to the futuristic and incredible medical technology that the team has, the soldiers are also able to stay in contact through radio, in which they can continuously share data between the team, give details about what is happening in the combat zone, and share both voice and even video communications. It creates the squad and the troops into an intellectual and well-rounded fighting machine.

Group of soldiers in their uniform holding onto their weapons

As we mentioned earlier as well, the squad leader is given a small computer, known as the GLONASS navigation system, which allows him or her to keep an eye on and locate his entire squad. In addition to this technology, the soldiers also have their own tactical computers on hand, however this is one is much smaller, comparable to a telephone or “mobile phone.”

The Last Part; Weapons

Any soldier’s uniform and outfit are not complete without their weapon. When it comes to the Ratnik program it appears as though the Kalashnikov assault rifle will have more chances of being a permanent part of the program compared to its rivalling submachine gun model which is the AEK-971. The Kalashnikov assault rifle is not only easier to handle, but it also has fewer parts, making it easier to manage.

the Kalashnikov assault rifle for the Russian Ratnik program

In addition, Ratnik teams will also have on hand the 12.7 mm 6VM7-1 and the 6VM7 sniper rifles, providing them with the necessary weapons which they need for combat.

The Ratnik Program is absolutely incredible when you break down the advances in technology and how the team has put it together to remain in constant contact and in the know with their entire squad, from the leaders to the medics. While we currently don’t have any of the technology or equipment on hand in our shop, we do provide a great deal of military equipment and tactical gear that will surely help you on any mission, adventure, hike, or hunting trip. Be sure to check out our shop here for more details.

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