TechRussian soldiers face equipment corruption as bulletproof vests falter

Russian soldiers face equipment corruption as bulletproof vests falter

A Russian soldier checks a delivered bulletproof vest, which instead of ballistic plates had pieces of wood.
A Russian soldier checks a delivered bulletproof vest, which instead of ballistic plates had pieces of wood.
Images source: © X (dawniej Twitter) | Anton Gerashchenko
Przemysław Juraszek

8 July 2024 08:52

Russian soldiers often rely on equipment deliveries from volunteers because their standard issue usually includes only uniforms. However, it turns out that these deliveries are also being stolen, and bulletproof vests that reach the front lines are incapable of stopping bullets.

Russian soldiers are often used in suicidal charges against Ukrainian positions solely to activate Ukrainian defensive positions, which are then targeted by, for example, FAB family air bombs. For this reason, personal equipment is minimal (often based on old items dating back to World War II), and Russians have to buy proper equipment or rely on aid foundations, which is also popular on the Ukrainian side.

It turns out that Russia's pervasive corruption results in items reaching Russian soldiers often being stolen. For example, there have been cases in the past of factory-made reactive armour bricks where the explosive material was replaced with rubber. In the video below, you can see bulletproof vests with pieces of wood instead of ballistic plates.

Russian ballistics

Since the early 2000s, the most popular protective vest has been the 6B23 bulletproof vest, which consists of Kevlar and two steel plates or, less commonly, ceramic ones located only in the front part. These vests have a reasonably small protection area and do not cover the entire lungs. A complete vest weighs around 22 pounds.

The vest, along with ballistic plates, protects against bullets fired from AK-47/74 rifles and the SVD sniper rifle, excluding armour-piercing rounds containing tungsten cores.

Translating this to NATO ammunition, a vest of this type with steel plates will stop 5.56-caliber bullets fired, for example, from M4A1 and Grot rifles, as well as standard 7.62-caliber bullets with a lead and possibly steel core fired from M14 or FN FAL rifles. Anything with a tungsten core will penetrate them without any problems.

Vests inspired by the West

The situation is a bit better with the 6B45 vests introduced into service in 2015, which are heavily inspired by Western solutions. Here, we have a Kevlar vest with large ceramic inserts on both the front and rear sides. The whole vest weighs around 18 pounds. The inserts are based on the currently popular aluminium oxide, which is slowly being replaced in the West by much more durable solutions based on boron carbide.

Durability-wise, according to tests conducted by Oxide, the 6B45 vests with ceramic inserts are somewhere around the class IV standard of NIJ. The Russian plate can withstand 5.56 mm tungsten-core bullets and 7.62 or .30-06 steel-core bullets. The situation is different with 7.62 calibre tungsten-core bullets (M993 or similar) fired from, for example, an FN FAL rifle, which passes straight through.

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