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Futuristic Russian Military Suit Gets Nuclear-Proof Upgrade

The "Ratnik" combat kit, a futuristic array of military gear designed in Russia, now includes a nuclear-blast-proof wristwatch. (Image credit: Rostec State Corporation)

A high-tech, Russian "soldier of the future" combat suit just got a gear upgrade, with a wristwatch capable of withstanding nuclear blasts.

Newly added to the "Ratnik" military kit — a complex multi-system array of wearable and portable combat gear — the mechanical, self-winding watch weighs about 4 ounces (100 grams) and can withstand destructive electronic pulses used in warfare "and even consequences of a nuclear blast," representatives of the Rostek State Corporation, developers of the Ratnik kit, said in a statement.

"If a soldier is exposed to electromagnetic emission of a nuclear bomb, the watch will continue to operate without any interruption," according to Oleg Faustov, a chief designer of life support systems for tactical gear at Rostek. The statement did not describe any other gear in the Ratnik kit as impervious to the effects of a nuclear explosion, however. [The 20 Weirdest Military Weapons]

Five integrated systems incorporating 59 items — including weapons and devices for protection, communication and optical enhancement — make up the Ratnik combat kit, which can operate under any type of weather conditions and may be used around the clock, the Russian news agency TASS reported.

A more advanced version of the combat gear, described as Ratnik-3, is expected to be unveiled in 2020 and will include a sophisticated suite of operating networks built into a titanium frame, Rostek representatives said on Sept. 29. This so-called "combat suit of the future" will be about 30 percent lighter than the current Ratnik kit, and it will incorporate a jointed exoskeleton with devices for controlling the suit's microclimate and monitoring the wearer's health, along with a digital display system for a helmet face shield or goggles, according to TASS.

The wristwatch may currently be the only device in the Ratnik kit built to emerge intact after a nuclear blast, but the looming threat of nuclear weapons has certainly been gathering more attention on the global stage in recent months.

In January, a consortium of scientists and experts in charge of the "Doomsday Clock," a fictional timepiece counting down the minutes to humanity's destruction, moved its hands 30 seconds closer to midnight — absolute destruction — in part to reflect growing concerns about the threat of nuclear war.

More recently, missile tests in North Korea rekindled fears around the world about the possibility of their using long-range nuclear weapons. President Donald Trump has further stoked fears with promises to increase the U.S. nuclear arsenal "nearly tenfold," a plan that surprised many of his closest advisors, NBC reported Oct. 11.

Original article on Live Science.

Mindy Weisberger
Mindy Weisberger is a senior writer for Live Science covering general science topics, especially those relating to brains, bodies, and behaviors in humans and other animals — living and extinct. Mindy studied filmmaking at Columbia University; her videos about dinosaurs, biodiversity, human origins, evolution, and astrophysics appear in the American Museum of Natural History, on YouTube, and in museums and science centers worldwide. Follow Mindy on Twitter.