Ratnik (Russian: Ратник; Warrior) is a Russian future infantry combat system. It is designed to improve the connectivity and combat effectiveness of combat personnel in the Russian Armed Forces. Improvements include modernised body armour, a helmet with a special eye monitor (thermal, night vision monocular, flashlight), communication systems, and special headphones. It includes 10 subsystems and 59 individual items. As of October 2016, it has already seen combat use.
The “Strelets” (“Musketeer”) system provides voice and video communication. The system also includes a GLONASS navigation module so that a squad leader can see the location of each soldier on his small, book-sized, computer. With this computer, he also can give orders to his squad, and send videos and photos to headquarters. As well as this, each soldier has their own smaller telephone-sized tactical computer.
Ratnik protects almost 90% of a soldier’s body. The main body armour (Standard vest) is GOST R 50744-95 Level V rated, weighs 7.5 kg (with the Assault variant weighing up to 15 kg). The main body armour fully protects from 7.62×39mm rounds from assault rifles, and 7.62×54mmR from sniper rifles, including the increased penetration of hardened rounds, and can survive hits from repeated shots in these calibres conducted at close range. The weight of the full Ratnik infantry system with the special thigh and shoulder bulletproof shields is 19–20 kg. Basic Ratnik gear (for engineers and medics) weighs 15 kg (without thigh and shoulder guards). Ratnik gear is made of a special fabric preventing troops from being detected by infrared devices.
Prototype Ratnik kits were initially distributed to selected units in the Ground Forces in 2013 according to Oleg Martyanov, a member of Russia’s Military-Industrial Commission, which acts as the government’s liaison with the defense industry. According to other sources, the Ratnik system underwent final acceptance tests in late 2013. All the equipment of Ratnik (firearms, body armour, optic, communication and navigation devices, medical, and power supply systems, as well as uniform items such as knee and elbow pads) were tested and accepted into service in the Russian Armed Forces on 23 October 2014. Initially only elite troops will receive the AK-12 as part of the Ratnik system, while the rest of the Ground Forces will continue using the AK-74 into the 2020s.
For the Russian Navy and Engineering Troops, the bulletproof vest is combined with a life vest, so that soldiers and sailors who are thrown into the water won’t drown. All Naval Infantry units were equipped with Ratnik gear as of November 2016.
Serial deliveries and batch production of Ratnik began in the first half of 2015. The Russian Ministry of Defence has stated it will buy 50,000 sets annually. About 200,000 Ratnik sets have been delivered as of September 2017, and it is expected that 100% of the Russian Armed Forces will be equipped with Ratnik gear by 2020.