Russian 'Sotnik' Combat Gear Allows Control of Micro-Drone Swarm

The gear will replace Russia's 'Ratnik' armor and will include landmine-proof boots.
Chris Young

Russia will integrate the ability to control small size attack drone swarms, robots, and exoskeletons into its next-generation soldier gear, in a development that feels more like a videogame update than reality.

The equipment will be developed to enhance the situational awareness of each individual soldier, improve combat performance and efficiency, and reduce the risk to life on the battlefield.


A new generation of combat gear

In a report by Rossiiskaya Gazeta, via AsiaTimes, Russia's General of the Army Oleg Salyukov stated that "one of the current R&D projects, being carried out at the request of the ground forces’ command, envisages the creation of a new generation combat gear incorporating elements that enhance the personnel’s physical abilities."

These incorporations include "combat and special exoskeletons, and the integration of combat and support robots as well as reconnaissance and attack drones of small and mini-class," Salyukov continued.

As TASS recently reported, the Russian military and technology firm Rostec explained that the next-generation combat gear 'Sotnik', in development by one of its affiliates — the Central Scientific-Research Institute for Precision Machine Engineering TasNIItochMash — will incorporate micro-drones linked to a tactical level automated command system.

R&D for the next-generation of combat gear, which will eventually replace the current 'Ratnik' (Warrior) armor, is predicted to last from 2020 to 2023.

Incredibly advanced capabilities

Aside from being 20 percent lighter than the 'Ratnik' gear, images from the micro-drones' cameras will also be projected straight to the soldier's helmet visor or protective glasses, alongside commands and maps of the terrain.

It is also expected that the Sotnik combat gear will consist of landmine-proof boots, a special thermal suit that makes the soldier invisible to infrared sensors, and an antiradar suit, TASS writes.

"The work on next-generation gear is continuing. We have a sufficient R&D reserve for this," Rostec corporation official Sergei Abramov told research group The Jamestown Foundation.

"Possibly, there will be some robotized systems integrating artificial intelligence with human capabilities. Research is in progress into using powered exoskeletons, micro-drones, and new weapons," he continued.

Perhaps most impressively of all, a chromogenic electroactive material is likely to be employed, which enables the combat gear to change color to blend in with the mission location's terrain. Yet another development that feels more science fiction than reality.

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