Rostec, the Russian state corporation, has unveiled remarkable video footage showcasing a cutting-edge piece of military equipment that has demonstrated an unprecedented ability to withstand bullet impacts well beyond its intended specifications.
Dubbed the “Obereg” bulletproof vest, this formidable protective gear was specifically designed to serve as a guardian in high-stakes military operational zones. What sets it apart is its remarkable resilience, as it showcased the extraordinary capacity to absorb the impact of a potent 8.6x70mm Lapua Magnum rifle bullet (.338in), surpassing its original design parameters. In a stark contrast, a captured US-made vest proved inadequate in stopping a bullet fired from an AK assault rifle, underscoring the superior performance of the “Obereg” vest when confronted with the formidable force of the Lapua Magnum rifle bullet.
The term “talisman” here is employed metaphorically to describe the bulletproof vest as a protective, potentially luck-bringing piece of equipment.
The 8.6x70mm Lapua Magnum rifle bullet is renowned for its outstanding accuracy and long-range capabilities, making it a formidable ammunition choice. The effective impact range of this bullet can vary, influenced by factors such as firearm type, bullet weight, and environmental conditions. However, it consistently demonstrates impressive performance at long distances, often surpassing 1,000 meters (approximately 1,093 yards) in terms of both accuracy and lethality when used with capable firearms.
Rostec’s recent “Nash Krash” project has unveiled a comprehensive comparative analysis of three distinct flak jackets. These vests encompass a cost-effective option available in the market, the newly developed Russian “Obereg” model, and an American vest utilized by the Ukrainian army. It’s crucial to emphasize that all these vests adhere to the BR5 protection level, which corresponds to Class 6 in Russia’s GOST armor standard.
“Flak jackets” are protective vests designed to provide defense against projectiles and shrapnel, commonly employed by military personnel to safeguard against explosions and gunfire.
The BR5 protection level, categorized as Class 6 within Russia’s GOST armor standard, specifies a precise level of ballistic resistance in body armor and vehicle armor. This rating indicates that the armor is engineered to withstand ammunition of a specific caliber and velocity, typically including protection against rifles and heavy firearms. A higher BR rating signifies greater resilience, making the armor well-suited for military and security applications.
The American model exhibited the lowest level of resistance, as it failed to withstand the impact of a standard 7.62x54mmR AK assault rifle bullet, which easily penetrated it. In stark contrast, the other two models effectively halted the bullet, showcasing their superior protective capabilities.
The Obereg vest’s plate employs a sophisticated multi-layered composition, incorporating materials such as ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), ceramics, Kevlar fiber, and an additional protective layer. This combination not only minimizes fragmentation scatter but also offers moisture insulation, enhancing the vest’s overall performance.
The total weight of the Obereg, inclusive of side, throat, and shoulder protection, as well as the armored apron and backside plate, currently stands at 11.5 kg. Remarkably, this weight is considered lightweight for a vest providing BR5-level protection, covering a substantial area exceeding 5.3 square feet. Rostec is actively working to reduce its weight further, with the aim of achieving a target range between 10 and 10.5 kg.
The Bloody Trail
The history of body armor reads like a tale of weighty struggles and remarkable ingenuity. Centuries ago, metal body armor was the knight’s chosen shield against harm. Yet, as time marched on into the 16th and 17th centuries, it fell out of favor. The reason? Armor that could repel bullets was so burdensome that it became impractical.
Then came World War I, a conflict that rekindled the need for body protection but faced the same weight conundrum. The armor, while shielding the torso from menacing shell fragments, was still too heavy to justify its protection.
World War II played the role of catalyst, propelling us toward a solution. Enter the era of flak jackets – flexible, overlapping plates of steel, aluminum, or bonded fiberglass concealed within a nylon embrace, offering front-and-back protection. Soldiers could move relatively freely while gaining a degree of assurance against the ominous rain of shell fragments. Alas, these jackets couldn’t ward off armor-piercing bullets.
Fast forward to the swinging 1960s, and a new breed of vests emerged. These guardians featured plates crafted from composite layers of steel or the ultra-hard ceramic, boron carbide. Yet, the real breakthrough came when we realized that layers upon layers of humble nylon fabric possessed the extraordinary power to dissipate the energy of a bullet. It was a revolutionary twist in the saga of modern body armor, transforming the way we safeguard ourselves in the line of duty.
The contrast between traditional steel or hard plastic armor and modern textile vests is striking in their approach to stopping bullets. Steel or plastic armor aims to be entirely impervious to a bullet’s penetration, while the textile vest takes a different path. It deforms the bullet and then disperses its energy, effectively entangling it within the intricate web of its many layers.
A typical textile bulletproof vest is meticulously crafted from 16 to 24 layers of densely woven nylon cloth, resembling a quilt in construction. These layers are intricately stitched together, forming a formidable shield. When an ordinary pistol or submachine-gun bullet strikes this garment, it meets immediate resistance. The bullet is flattened upon impact with the outermost layers of the vest, transforming into a mushroom-shaped slug. As it encounters the remaining thicknesses of the vest, it expends its energy, pressing against the overlapping layers of coarse mesh. Crucially, it is unable to breach this barrier.
While the wearer of such a vest may experience bruising from the bullet’s impact, the consequences are typically not severe. Vests composed of 16 layers are effective at stopping regular handgun and submachine-gun bullets, while those with 24 layers provide a higher level of protection, capable of halting the more potent magnum bullets fired from the same weapons. These textile vests exemplify a modern marvel in the realm of personal protection, offering a remarkable balance between safeguarding lives and maintaining mobility.
the story of Russian innovation in body armor, exemplified by the “Obereg” bulletproof vest, showcases the relentless pursuit of advanced technology to protect military personnel. Rostec’s commitment to developing protective equipment that not only meets but surpasses international standards reflects a dedication to the safety and security of those in harm’s way.
The remarkable capabilities of the “Obereg” vest, as demonstrated in comparative tests, underscore the importance of staying at the forefront of armor technology. Its ability to withstand high-powered rifle bullets, coupled with efforts to reduce its weight, highlights a commitment to both effectiveness and practicality.