In past blog posts, I have featured the modernization efforts of the base Kalashnikov rifle that resulted in the 5.45×39 AK-12. What many people do not know is that this was just part of a much broader Russian program to create a future infantry combat system. The name of this program is “Ratnik” (Ратник) that translates as warrior.
While R&D started ear;lier, prototype Ratnik kits for the first generation components were delivered in 2013. Firearms, optics, communication, navigation, uniform, load bearing and body armor elements were accepted into service on October 23, 2014. Approximate 200,000 sets were delivered by September 2017, and 100% adoption is estimated in 2020 of the Ratnik-2 system. Ratnik-3 hasn’t been released yet but the suit will include a powered exoskeleton to improve strength, speed and stamina.
Overall, what you are seeing is a concerted move away from the Soviet doctrine of volumes of relative untrained and marginally equipped armed forces personnel (all branches exclude Spetsnaz) to that of a professional modern force of trained and well equipped soldiers.
The following video is in Russian but affords the viewer a really good opportunity to see the Ratnik-1 and -2 equipment first hand.
The following is a brief video showing Russian Paratroopers doing drills in Pskov.
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