For decades, the US and Russian military have competed excessively in body armor technology, to give their soldier superhuman capabilities. For over a decade now, the Russian Sotnik or Centurion is leading the race by multiple paces. The third generation body armor can survive 7.62 mm rounds and is equipped with other high-end gear include night vision goggles and internal communication systems.
In a recent announcement that has met mixed reactions from warfare analysts, the Russian state-owned military manufacturer Rostec claimed that they have begun working on the 4th generation Sotnik which will be strong enough to withstand a direct shot of .50 caliber bullet, making it even more powerful than bulletproof vehicles.
A .50 caliber bullet is larger than your fist and approximately 3 times larger than the 7.62mm bullets, and anyone who is hit directly by the .50 caliber almost immediately dies. If in an extremely fortunate case the person survives, they are most likely to end up with irreparable physical damage.
However, whether the armor would allow soldiers to move along the front lines during battles is another story altogether.
How Real is the Claim?
Russian military warfare development experts believe that the 4th generation Sotnik made of lightweight polyethylene fiber and armor will be able to withstand the brunt of .50 caliber bullets with ease and will also be lighter in weight and easier for the soldier to wear and move around thus literally giving Russian soldiers superhuman capabilities during combat.
The armor is also said to be equipped with other robotic equipment and communication exchange systems integrated within making it a literal embodiment of the ironman. In a press release issued by Rostec, it was claimed that this new armor will surpass the outgoing Ratnik Suit that includes features of thermal vision, internal heaters, gas kit, med kit, and integrated communications. In the last 8 years, over 300,000 units of the Ratnik have been delivered to the Russian Ministry of Defense.
The Arms Race Between Russia & USA:
Even though the US army has excessively worked for decades to developed armors that will enhance the capabilities of the soldiers on the front line, they haven’t been able to achieve even half of what the Russian manufacturers have built.
Russian military experts and analysts have said Rostec is very serious about keeping up its bold promises and believes they will be able to further lead the high-tech battle armored race for centuries to come.
Looking Back in History:
In the 1990s, US Helicopter crews were issued with the SARVIP (Survival Armor Recovery Vest Inserts and Packets) including huge pockets for ceramic plates to withstand the 0.50 caliber bullets. However, the weight of the armor was so much that they were hardly ever worn by the crew.
Earlier in WW1, the Germans also introduced Sappenpanzer, a heavy body armor made of segmented steel plates. Even though the armor was successful in terms of protecting the soldiers but it was so heavy that it could only be worn by machine gunners or sentries.
Whether the new Russian Sotnik will be able to break the barriers of the past and provide superhuman capabilities without restricting movement is yet to be seen.