The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) is planning to start mass procurement of the locally manufactured future high-tech soldier system in 2014, the country’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu has announced.

Shoigu was quoted by RIA Novosti, saying: ”We have practically finished work on the Ratnik gear and will start purchases of series-produced equipment for our army next year.”

Developed as part of the soldier military equipment (BES) programme, the Ratnik infantry soldier kit comprises more than 40 components, including firearms, body armour, optic, communication and navigation devices, life support and power supply systems, as well as knee and elbow pads.

Available in summer and winter variants, the lightweight gear can be used by regular infantry, rocket launcher operators, machine gunners, drivers and scouts, and is claimed to provide protection against environmental threats from weapons of mass destruction and non-lethal weapons.

"It is claimed to provide protection against environmental threats from weapons of mass destruction and non-lethal weapons."

The system is expected to feature at least ten modules for adaptability to varied combat environments, the news agency has earlier reported citing Russian Military-Industrial Commission first deputy chair, Yury Borisov.

Successfully evaluated by the Russian Army, the Ratnik gear’s induction into operational service has, however, been postponed due to problems in the fine-tuning of its light weapons, widely expected to include the new Kalashnikov AK-12 assault rifle.

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An array of future soldier equipment programmes are currently underway in several countries worldwide, including the US Land Warrior, Germany’s Infanterist der Zukunft (IdZ), UK’s future infantry soldier technology (FIST), Spain’s Combatiente Futuro (ComFut), as well as Sweden’s IMESS and France’s Fantassin à Équipement et Liaisons Intégré (FELIN).

Defence Technology