Russia's state-of-the-art 'soldier of the future' tech is up for sale

High-level officials from Russia's state arms seller, Rosoboronexport, have announced plans to promote its state-of-the-art "soldier of the future" combat gear and advanced small arms to the foreign firms in the global arms market, the firm's press office reported this week (29 May).

Alexander Mikheyev, general director of Rosoboronexport said during a Scientific and Technical Council-hosted workshop, titled "Engineering and Armament of the Ground Forces", the aim was to "increase the attractiveness and competitiveness" of weapons made by Russian enterprises.

"Rosoboronexport will advance to the world arms market kits of combat equipment, individual armour protection of the new generation and prospective small arms," Mikheyev said, adding that Russian firms will start to develop new models and upgrade their technology.

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"We are seeing an increase in demand for small arms, melee weapons, sights and ammunition in the world," he continued. "Over the past three years, Rosoboronexport's order book for these products has grown more than five-fold."

Workshop attendees also discussed the need for export documents to help Rosoboronexport sell its "soldier of the future" combat gear to foreign customers. This will include second-generation "Ratnik" combat uniforms, reported Tass, the Russian state news agency.

The Ratnik, which translates to "Warrior", is comprised of "advanced protective and communication equipment" for soldiers and is made up of roughly "40 protective and life support elements" that gives military personnel continuously updated information about combat situations, Tass said.

According to website ArmyRecognition.com, which detailed the Ratnik tech in detail, such uniforms are made with camouflage which makes soldiers less visible to infrared detection. They are also reportedly designed with sensors to transmit real-time data about the soldier's physical state.

It noted: "Specially-designed sensors will continually record heart rate, respiratory rate, blood-oxygen saturation indicators and microvascular blood filling. The system will store and analyse this data and any deviation from the norm will trigger an alarm in the medical service."

Last year, officials said more than 80,000 personnel were already equipped with the future soldier gear. Russian media has reported work is already underway on a third generation of the military tech that will come with an "integral exoskeleton" and helmet-mounted visor.

Earlier this month, 24 May, Tass state news reported the Russian army had tested its Ratnik combat uniforms during operations in Syria.

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"During the combat operation, the newest systems of communications, intelligence, radio-electronic warfare, as well as the Ratnik combat gear, including modern types of firearms, were tested," deputy defence minister Yuri Borisov was quoted as saying.

Russia is far from the only country with "future solider" programmes.

In September 2015, the UK's own Ministry of Defence (MoD), announced that its Future Soldier Vision (FSV) that teased "sensor-laden body armour, a smart watch that monitors life signs and smart glasses with integrated cameras" as part of a military overhaul stretching to 2020.

"In an uncertain world, it is vital that we continually look at the future threats our Armed Forces might face," said UK defence secretary Michael Fallon at the time.

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