Tsniitochmash: “Ratnik” to be supplied to Armed Forces at year’s end

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The “Ratnik” equipment has passed all state tests and starting from the end of this year will be supplied to the Russian Armed Forces, said General Director of the Central Research Institute of Precision Engineering (Tsniitochmash) Dmitry Semizorov.

“I am pleased to say that the “Ratnik” has completed all state tests. Since the end of 2014 and within the next three years, the equipment will be supplied to the Armed Forces,” – he said.

“Ratnik” is the Russian military equipment for the “soldier of the future”, which combines modern firearms, effective protection kits, reconnaissance and communication means, in total about 10 different subsystems.

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Second generation “Warrior” was shown

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Tsniitochmash, part of Rostec State Corporation, showed the second generation of “Warrior” combat equipment at the annual national shooting competitions. The enterprise is the leading developer of equipment and combines the activities of more than 70 Russian companies from various industries.

At the briefing dedicated to the Tsniitochmash advanced developments, CEO of the Institute Dmitry Semizorov said that the contract with the Defense Ministry to supply combat equipment of a soldier of the future “Warrior” had already been signed and was meant for three years.

The head of the enterprise said that the first kits will be delivered this year, and the main volumes – starting in 2015. “Warrior” is planned to be delivered to foreign customers, and at the IDEX-2015 exhibition in Abu Dhabi, the export version of equipment will be presented,” – said Dmitry Semizorov.

Military Robots Coming

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Russia’s newly established military robot design lab has finally gone into operation, Oleg Bochkarev, deputy head of Russia’s governmental Military-Industrial Commission told ITAR TASS news agency. Russia’s deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin was the first to have announced plans to set up a new laboratory at the Degtyarev arms factory in Kovrov last year planning to attract private investors to experiment and create prototypes that could join the troops if passing tests.

According to Rogozin, the robots will save lives: “We have to conduct battles without any contact, so that our boys do not die, and for that it is necessary to use war robots,” he said. The idea was backed by Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu, who urged engineers to make robots combat ready by 2015-17, instead of initially scheduled 2020.

In 2012, Russia’s Advanced Rsearch Foundation was created to deal with robots, space defense and supersonic technology.

1This January Rogozin claimed the Foundation was working on a super sensitive Avatar-style robot which adjusts to human behavior and which humans can operate from inside. Rogozin, however, urged researchers to generate new ideas, rather than using already existing Western developments.

Robots that can kill people aren’t science fiction anymore: they’re reality. Russia has deployed armed robots, different from drones because they can select targets and decide to fire on them without any human input, to guard its missile bases. Russia wants to expand its robotic capabilities considerably, and it’s likely several other countries do as well. We’re slouching towards a future where robots play a frontline role in combat.

4The armed robots issue is becoming so real, so fast, that 87 countries sat down at a United Nations-convened conference from May 13th to the 15th to discuss banning the things. Those nations, including Russia, China, and the United States, discussed amending the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which 117 countries have accepted, to prohibit the use of armed robots during wartime. A lot of the news coverage on this issue has treated robot arms control as if it’s a joke or a novelty. It’s neither: For over a year, Human Rights Watch has been building a campaign to pressure for banning military robots, arguing that they pose an unacceptable threat to civilian populations. Are they right? Should we be banning what HRW calls “killer robots”?

3The debate about robots in warfare comes down to the question of whether they would make war crimes more or less likely. There are serious arguments on either side. In many ways, this new argument about robots is an extension of much older argument about why war crimes happen and how to prevent them. This isn’t a joke anymore: the debate over military robotics is about preventing horrific abuse of real people.

Russia to Focus on Robotic Weaponry

2The Russian army should focus on the acquisition of robotic weaponry and reduce its overall number of different types of military equipment in use.

4In December, addressing lawmakers from Russia’s lower house of parliament, Dmitry Rogozin listed robotic weaponry and automated combat management systems with highly secure and fast communication links as key items to be included in the new state arms procurement program for 2016 to 2025.

Rogozin said robotic technologies should be present in the development of all types of military hardware for use on the ground, in the air and under water.

5Rogozin, who oversees the defense and space industries, stressed the need to reduce the variety of similar types of weaponry manufactured in small batches because of the heavy burden on defense companies and significant production costs.

The development of modular universal combat platforms that could be used as a basis for a variety of military hardware should also be a priority, he said.

Russia is currently implementing an ambitious rearmament program through 2020, with a budget of some 20 trillion rubles ($640 billion).

The program will see the share of modern weaponry in Russia’s armed forces reach 30 percent by 2015 and 70 percent by 2020.

Moreover Russia is planning to deploy mobile security robots in 2014 to protect its strategic missile facilities, the Defense Ministry said Wednesday.

“In March, the Russian Strategic Missile Forces [RVSN] began testing mobile robotic systems being developed to protect key RVSN installations,” spokesman Maj. Dmitry Andreyev said.

3Andreyev said the security bots will be deployed at five ballistic missile launch sites around Russia as part of an upgrade to the existing automated security systems.

The official said the robots will carry out reconnaissance and patrol missions, detect and destroy stationary or moving targets and provide fire support for security personnel at the guarded facilities.

Mobile robotic platforms play an increasingly important role in military and security applications, helping personnel to meet challenges posed by the growing threat of terrorist attacks or “guerilla warfare.”

1Moreover the Russian Defense Ministry will start mass purchases of domestically designed “future soldier” gear in 2014.

The equipment can be used by regular infantry, rocket launcher operators, machine gunners, drivers and scouts.

“We have practically finished work on the Ratnik gear and will start purchases of series-produced equipment for our army next year,” Shoigu told reporters on Saturday.

The Ratnik gear has been successfully tested by the Russian military but is adoption into service has been delayed due to uncertainty with the choice of small arms component, which is likely to include the new Kalashnikov AK-12 assault rifle.

The Internet on the battlefield

2Russian Defence Ministry intends to urgently overcome the gap to the Western armies in the field of communication.

2Electronic tablet in the next few years will be a must-have outfit of the Russian soldier, and communications in the Russian army will not be inferior to foreign ones. A video conference has already started to be used to control the ships of the Russian Navy. The Office of Communications Ministry of Defence about his plans.

The acting head of the main Communications division of the Armed Forces of Russia , Major General Khalil Arslanov told reporters about the pace at which the army is now equipped with the latest electronic means.

Thus, the general said, the Defence Ministry is now working on equipping the military units with Internet access means.

2He noted that computers are connected to the Internet at a number of facilities of the Defence Ministry, with special attention paid to compliance with safety requirements.

Arslanov also admitted that it is now difficult to find soldiers, including conscripts, who did not have a personal mobile phone. “At least 80 % of them use the phones that have the ability to connect to the Internet,” – he said.

The developed set of “equipment of XXI century fighter” will include a new radio station, of the sixth generation, as well as an electronic tablet.

“This kit provides soldier navigation, orientation, target designation, management of firepower and also increases his combat capabilities, improving survivability and mobility in the battlefield . “

3“The kit includes a new generation of radio communications and military-oriented electronic tablet, alias tactical terminal” – added acting head of the main Communications division.

This tablet is designed to automate the management solutions, applied computational problems as well as problems of navigation and orienteering using a digital magnetic compass and GLONASS/GPS receiver.

Arslanov expressed regret that he could not provide more detailed information about this, because the “work to create a unified system of control of troops in battlefield operations is not yet completed and the information about its results should not be broadcast.”

1By 2020, according to the general, more than two thousand control points and other facilities of the Defence Ministry will be equipped with digital telecommunications means.

Arslanov said that with the installation of new equipment ” the user is provided the necessary services – open and closed high-quality telephone service, access to the computerized control system, exchange system of electronic correspondence, and additional features: carrying audio and video conferences, access to global information resources (access to Internet).”

Russia May Soon Adopt Gear for “Soldier of the Future”

1The Russian version of “future soldier” gear could be put into service with the armed forces in the near future, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said.

2Rogozin, who visited the privately owned Degtyarev small arms plant in central Russia, said the tests of domestically designed Ratnik (Warrior) gear had been completed.

“There are some issues with small arms that should be addressed in the near future, and after that the gear will be adopted by the army,” Rogozin said.

3Various modifications of a new Kalashnikov AK-12 assault rifle as well as other small arms developed as part of Russia’s “future soldier” gear will pass state acceptance trials in the fall of 2013, a spokesperson for the Kalashnikov corporation said.

Yelena Filatova told reporters that a number of prospective small arms models for the Ratnik gear were shown to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu during the Russian Defense Ministry’s Innovation Day arms exhibition on August 20 in Moscow.

“After examining the weaponry, the minister confirmed that all small arms developed under the Ratnik project will undergo state acceptance trials in the fall to bring clarity to the fate of the ‘future soldier’ gear,” Filatova said.

1New combat outfits for the armies of the world are not just updated outfits with elements of protection. These are real navigation systems that allow improving the interaction of the soldiers inside the unit thanks to communication systems and mapping. They also provide direct communication between the field and a tactical and even operational (brigade, division) level of command.

That is, the lag in the development of individual equipment for soldiers in the long term means a lag in management and coordination of army units and the level of interaction between the branches of the military on the battlefield.

1In turn, the implementation of this task requires not only the use of modern secure communication systems, but also a global geographical positioning system like GLONASS. The contemporary “queen of fields” needs satellite support for conducting effective combat actions.

The tests of “Ratnick”, a modernized version of the previously developed “Barmitsa” system began at the 27th Motorized Rifle Brigade in the Moscow region. The tests in the airborne units have been conducted since early fall of 2012, and took place under the framework of “Kavkaz-2012” training. The modular kit has been praised by the army. Troopers asked to modify the mountable components that did not deal well with overloads during landing.

1Moreover Moscow’s Kurchatov Institute, one of Russia’s largest nuclear physics think-tanks, expects to receive more than $5m in government funding for the development of the “soldier of the future” technology complex by 2020.

The Russian Government and its Advanced Research Fund (ARF) are said to have approved a timeline for the project for the next three years.

According to ARF, the prospective technology system is expected to enable a real “soldier of the future” to engage in combat operations from a position as far away from the firing line as possible, running an array of combat robots.

1Russia hopes to start adopting the results of the new project after 2020.

The Advanced Research Fund was set up last fall, with Russian vice premier Dmitry Rogozin responsible for military-related industry being the primary driver of the Fund program. ARF has been meant as the Russian analog of the U.S.’ DARPA, the Pentagon-controlled Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. ARF’s main goal is assistance in developing high-risk R&D projects for military purposes.

Many other nations have similar future soldier equipment programs in progress, including the U.S. Land Warrior, Germany’s IdZ, Britain’s FIST, Spain’s COMFUT, Sweden’s IMESS and France’s FELIN.

Rogozin stressed that the Russian gear would be superior in many ways to comparable NATO equipment.

Russian Soldier of the Future

4Russia has launched a new project financed by the Foundation of Prospective Research called “The soldier of the future”.

In fact, two concepts of the future soldier now dominate in the world. One is that of an operator of highly robotized equipment, who controls it from a safe place, sometimes far from the battlefield. The second is to turn a common soldier into a “superman” by equipping him with an exo-skeleton, something like a spacesuit or suit of armor to make him much stronger and less vulnerable.

6However, if operating robotic military equipment from a safe distance is already a reality, exo-skeletal suits are not yet being used in the army and, most likely, will not come into practice in the near future either. At least, this is the view of Editor-in-Chief of Russian magazine “Arsenal Otechestva” (“Fatherland’s arsenal”) Victor Murakhovsky.

4“What is hampering the creation of exo-skeletons, is, first of all, the issue of what energy they will use”, Mr. Murakhovsky says. “At present, the choice is limited, either petrol or diesel-oil, or electric power. But the problem is that, although we probably could equip an exo-skeleton with electric power accumulators, from the point of view of power, fuel-oil is much more effective. Most probably, until mankind discovers or invents a new kind of energy production, apart from electricity and fuel-oil, exo-skeletons for soldiers will remain a dream rather than reality. However, engineers are still attempting to work on them”.

“In fact, I seriously doubt that the time will come when exo-skeletons will be effectively used in battle,” Victor Murachovsky concludes, “Maybe, they will be used for parades, or, at least, during preparations for a battle.”

Mr. Murakovsky is also rather skeptical towards the idea that future wars will consist of battles between unmanned planes and tanks, operated by people sitting miles and miles away from the battlefield.

“The story of a US drone intercepted by Iranians is an illustration of the much-lauded “effectiveness” of unmanned planes”, he says. “I believe that anyone who tried to lead a battle with just drones instead of manned aircraft would very much risk losing”.

2“A modern artillery battery can effectively hit targets no further than about 50 kms around it,” Victor Murakhovsky continues. “For a modern helicopter, the relevant figure is several dozen kms, and for a drone,  several hundred kms. Taking this into account, I doubt that at present, anyone who is sitting, say, in Moscow, could effectively operate a drone, say, somewhere in the Far East. True, the US now uses long-range drones in Pakistan, Somalia or Yemen. But these are countries that can hardly be qualified as the world’s most developed ones.”

However, some experts do not share Mr. Murakovasky’s attitude towards the possibility of wars using unmanned planes and tanks. Thus, the RIA Novosti news agency’s military observer Konastantin Bogdanov says:

1“There is a proverb which goes: “Being well informed means being well armed”, and, in contemporary wars, this is probably more true than ever before. In modern wars, it is probably computer managers rather than soldiers on the battlefield on whom the outcome of a conflict depends. Today, the main aim of a warring side is not as much to destroy as many enemy planes and tanks as possible, as trying to get access to the enemy’s information and computer systems. Today, it wouldn’t be a big exaggeration to say that battles managed by people sitting in front of a computer many miles away from the battlefield have already become a reality. In such a situation, I wouldn’t be surprised if warriors in exo-skeletons became a reality very soon.”

5The organization that was ordered to work on “The Soldier of the Future” project is the Kurchatov National Scientific Center, chosen because, some time ago, new generation materials were created there, which, as experts believe, may well be used to create exo-skeletons.

The Russian version of “future soldier” gear could be put into service with the armed forces in the near future, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said.

3“There are some issues with small arms that should be addressed in the near future, and after that the gear will be adopted by the army,” Rogozin said.

Many other nations have similar future soldier equipment programs in progress, including the U.S. Land Warrior, Germany’s IdZ, Britain’s FIST, Spain’s COMFUT, Sweden’s IMESS and France’s FELIN.