Egyptian and Russian paratroopers will conduct a joint military exercise on Russian territory in September 2017. The "Protectors of Friendship 2017" exercise will take place in Krasnodar, 148 kilometers northeast of the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk. The Egyptian units will be deployed to the 7th Guards Airborne-Assault (Mountain) Division base in Novorossiysk.
The joint military exercise between the Russian and Egyptian Armed forces will include combat operations, landing and training exercises simulating operations in the mountainous area in Krasnodar district.
During the exercise, Egyptian servicemen will use Russian-made Ratnik combat gear, which boosts effectiveness and survivability of airborne soldiers.
When preparing for the joint exercise, more than 50 Egyptian airborne troops will be taught by Russian instructors how to utilize the Ratnik military equipment and will perform different combat tasks. The Russian airborne servicemen will show their Egyptian counterparts how the various elements of the equipment are integrated and how they complement each other in construct and functions. They will demonstrate how to use integrated systems of defense, life-sustaining and control, and the work of sighting, surveillance, communication and target-acquisition systems.
Russian paratroopers will also teach their Egyptian counterparts how to use the D-10 parachute system when jumping from airplanes and helicopters. Russian airborne servicemen have performed large-scale insert using D-10 parachute systems in the course of "Friendship-2016", a joint Russian-Egyptian counter-terrorist exercise held in Egypt. Egyptian troops used T-10V parachutes during the landing operation.
The "Ratnik-3" Combat Gear
The Ratnik is a system of advanced protective and communication equipment, weapons and ammunition. The combat gear is promoted as the outfit for the "soldier of the future." The Ratnik combat gear is a modular system consisting of ten subsystems, which can be modified depending on a combat situation, weather conditions and other factors. It has expanded space to carry equipment, a reduced weight, with armor dropping from 36 kilograms to 20 kg, and increased protection.
The Ratnik system comprises more than 40 protective and life support elements such as helmets, body armor, small arms, communications means that allow soldiers to receive continuously updated information in the battlefield, GLONASS navigation equipment, and a helmet visor-mounted target designation system. In addition, the Ratnik includes a self-contained heater, a backpack, an individual water filter, a gas mask and a medical kit.
The newest AK-12 assault rifle produced by the Kalashnikov small arms manufacturer for the Ratnik combat gear has passed all the stages of its operational evaluation. The AK-12 is expected to become operational in the Russian Army as the basic long-barrel firearm.
The D-10 parachute for the Ratnik combat outfit will be modernized by 2018, according to the Airborne Force Commander Col.-Gen. Andrey Serdyukov. "The R&D work is planned for 2018 to modernize the D-10 parachute system and the reserve parachute for airdropping personnel wearing Ratnik combat outfits," he said on April 28, 2017.
R&D work is also expected to be completed in 2018 to develop a whole range of multi-purpose platforms and cargo parachute systems for airdropping armaments, military hardware and cargos weighing from 500 kilograms to 18 tones, the commander said.
The Syrian Combat Experience
Russia launched the operation in Syria on September 2015, at the request of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The Russian Deputy Defense Minister, Yuri Borisov, said that Russia tested its advanced Ratnik combat uniform kits during the military operation in Syria.
"During the combat operation, the newest systems of communications, intelligence, radio-electronic warfare, as well as the Ratnik combat gear, including modern types of firearms, were tested. The orbit grouping of Russian spacecraft is also actively used in solving combat tasks in Syria," Borisov said in an interview to the Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) armed forces newspaper.
Russia's military testing body has said that its new body armor system for soldiers has proven itself on the Syrian battlefields. "We carried out the military use [testing], including in the Syrian Arab Republic," said Dmitry Semizorov, CEO of the Central Research Institute of Precision Machine-Making.
"During combat operations the equipment in question fared very well," he added. "We watched the kit that ended up in scrapes, if you can call them that. There was not even a single penetration of the combat equipment’s protective elements." Semizorov did not specify what kind of skirmishes the troops wearing the kit took part in but said that there were "many examples" of its defenses being tested in Syria.
The Russian government has commissioned the production of 50,000 second-generation Ratnik kits a year since 2014, delivering them to the Airborne Force and marine infantry. The advanced Ratnik-3 combat gear is currently being developed for Russia’s Armed Forces.
Dmitry Semizorov, the CEO of the Central Research Institute of Precision Machine-Making, told TASS that Russia had received several requests for the export of some elements of the Ratnik second-generation outfit. Rosoboronexport stated its intention to export some elements of the Ratnik combat gear back in 2014.
The Egyptian airborne units are among the first foreign forces to examine the new advanced combat gear. It's not clear if in the future Egypt will buy the Ratnik kits.
Russia is one of the main non-Arab supporters of El-Sisi’s government and was among the first countries to endorse El-Sisi’s presidential bid in 2014. Cairo has sought to strengthen its ties with Moscow, against the backdrop of strained ties with its long-time ally Washington, since the ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in July 2013. Egypt, though interested in forming stronger relations with Russia, primarily seek to signal to the international community that its foreign policy is not to be dictated by others.
Diversifying the sources of Egypt’s armaments became a priority among state strategists after the June 30 Revolution. Overreliance on one provider was seen as shortsighted. Egypt was also keen to ensure its armaments policy responded to international political developments, including the growing influence of China and Russia.