Many experts believe that the wars of the future will no longer be field wars but wars dominated by artificial intelligence and biochemical weapons. This evolution does not prevent countries from continuing to develop combat equipment with ever more embedded technology, such as the Russian public company Rostec with the Sotnik or Centurion combat armor.
According to the Jamestown Foundation, this armor will offer, among other things, a light armor defense and an entirely new ammunition system. Rostec engineer Bekkhan Ozdoev says the armor will be able to support additional weight, include robotic equipment, integrated information exchange systems and the fourth-generation version will be made of lightweight polyethylene fiber and a coating that can withstand direct fire from a .50 M2 Browning, or heavy machine gun.
According to Samuel Bendett, a research analyst specializing in Russian military developments, the plan to offer armor capable of withstanding such a powerful caliber will see the light of day even if it is not planned for the very near future because in the immediate future, the third generation of Sotnik armor is scheduled to replace the armor currently in use, called Ratnik or Warrior, by 2025.
The Ratnik armor, 300,000 of which were delivered to the Russian Ministry of Defense, consists of ten subsystems and fifty-nine components, can withstand a 7.62 mm caliber, consists of a helmet with a particular eye monitor and thermal night vision monocular with flashlight and integrated communication systems, a self-contained heater, an individual water filter, a gas mask and a medical kit.
The development of the third- and fourth-generation Sotnik armor can rely on feedback from the Ratnik armor, including some existing technologies that can be partially reused to provide new improvements, such as for information systems. In September 2020, Rostec unveiled an exoskeleton developed for the Ratnik armor capable of supporting 80 kilograms and a combat exoskeleton designed to carry 60 kilograms for assault operations.
It would appear that Rostec’s proposed infantry combat system technology developments are ahead of what the US can offer as a powered exoskeleton. The US Special Operations Command’s latest project, dubbed TALOS for Tactical Assault Light operator Suit, has yet to materialize after being unveiled in 2019. Russian armor can also be tested in the combat zones where it operates, conditions that are not equivalent to those available to the US military.