Russian Sappers in Palmyra, Syria, Using Passive Exoskeletons

It seems that human augmentation devices have seen their first practical application. Passive exoskeletons – perhaps less glamorously called “full body orthopedics” have been spotted in use by Russian sappers in Palmyra, Syria. The sappers – Russia’s equivalents to Western bomb disposal or explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) units – were wearing structural exoskeleton suits reportedly designated “K2”, shown in the videos below:

Like all practical modern exoskeletons, the Russian K2 exoskeleton is passive only – it has no power source. Instead, it is essentially a structural frame that takes the load off the soldier’s back in exchange for a little extra weight and perhaps less speed. The usefulness of these exoskeletons for the infantry is unfortunately limited due to their lack of power. For the sappers and bomb disposal units, however, these suits are a step up. Power to weight is less of a concern, and the stability of the suit in supporting their immensely heavy bomb resistant armor is likely a great additional comfort, and probably pays dividends in added mental focus and dexterity as well.

It may be some time before the infantry of tomorrow will reap the full benefits of a powered exoskeleton suit, but as frustrating as the problem of cramming an adequate power source into a human-sized exoskeleton is, we are closer than ever before to a solution. The fact that passive exoskeletons have to some degree become a reality hints at just how far the materials and human kinesthesiologic sciences have come.

And who knows, maybe the Mobile Infantry will be “on the bounce” in their gorilla-esque powered armor sooner than we think.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Just the thing for defusing 30 second bombs.

    • iksnilol

      If it is any consolation, comrade, it’s not like you can outrun a bomb in an EOD suit.

      • Uniform223
        • iksnilol

          Hurt locker wasn’t quite a documentary.

          • Phillip Cooper

            I laugh every time I see some asshat espousing how “it’s so realistic, according to all these veterans I know”.

          • 40mmCattleDog

            Lol for real the movie was ridiculous, an EOD team returning fire with a BARRET and sitting in overwatch for hours, a 3 man EOD team patrolling disarming IEDs, and providing security ALONE with no backup, and a US soldier sneaking off base to infiltrate an Iraqi city by himself at night with only a hoodie to disguise himself. I could go on but i really couldnt facepalm any harder watching the movie.

          • Bill

            Not to mention the lead character violating every principle of team-based work practices and risk management, which I think they sort of pay attention to in EOD work. Every bomb tech I’ve ever talked to has said that anybody who operated like that would be fired, or dead.

          • Iggy

            Pretty sure the incompetent guys were contractors/bounty hunters not SAS. But yes the movie is ridiculous, tension in the sniping scene was good though. And I do like the slo-mo.

          • Dougscamo

            No but it was hella good cinema….

          • GaryOlson

            It was a good piece of Promotional Relations to get recruits for EOD.

          • Mikial

            Not really.

          • Uniform223

            Obviously not but in the movie they used actual EOD suits.

          • Mikial

            The Hurt Locker was one of the worst movies ever made.

      • b0x3r0ck

        You can’t out run anything in an EOD Suit.

        • iksnilol

          Maybe somebody in a wheelchair… if their wheel broke.

        • Hinermad

          Once it detonates, you can’t outrun a bomb in any suit, either. So it’s even.

    • Major Tom

      While it sounds off the countdown?

  • iksnilol

    AY BLYAT!

    CKEEBI BREEKI IV DAMKE, NOW AY BLYIN GET OUT OF HERE STALKER!

  • erdogan genc
    • Anon

      >finally get calibration kit so I can run
      >game is over in 2 hours
      Why do this to me GOC

      • wetcorps

        This so much.

        • Anon

          The way the ending is so abruptly telegraphed and that itakes over so soon despite only giving you the best kit at that point is my biggest gripe about CoP. If they had given you some missions to do after end game, or more in pripyat that werent dealing with military then I think it’d be perfectly fine.

          • wetcorps

            SoC forever anyway.

          • iksnilol

            You mean where I struggled to reach the last portal alive with all my equipment to only realize I could’a done ditched my armor and just ran superfast to the portal (Since it ends the game after all).

  • GRV01

    “And who knows, maybe the Mobile Infantry will be “on the bounce” in their gorilla-esque powered armor sooner than we think.”

    Correction: Hydrocephalic gorilla

    • b0x3r0ck

      The only problem keeping powered suits from being used is what’s going to power it and how to recharge it in the field.

      • B-Sabre

        And how much maintenance is it going to require.

        • Hinermad

          And how much it’s going to cost. Ol’ Angry Bob underestimated it a bit:

          “I just want to remind you apes that each and every one of you has cost the gov’ment, counting weapons, armor, ammo, instrumentation, and training, everything, including the way you overeat — has cost, on the hoof, better’n half a million. Add in the thirty cents you are actually worth and that runs to quite a sum.”

          • FulMetlJakit

            Always just assumed different currency, and/or massive world-government orchestrated deflation.

      • iksnilol

        Biodiesel made from the biomass of their enemies.

  • Major Tom

    > “mobile suit”

    This is no Zaku boy! No Zaku!

    • Chill out, it’s just a tag,

      • Major Tom

        Clearly the reference went awry.

        Gundammit.

      • Budi Utomo

        Nice weaboo detector though.

  • Brett baker

    If they announce fingertip lasers, I just want everyone to know: I’ve always thought Vladimir Putin is a great leader.

    • Yenokh Yagoda

      Meanwhile he is advancing more and more into Korea.

  • Fast Forward
  • Rey

    Lets just hope the controls are activated with a tounge too…

  • Warren Ellis

    So are we going to hear about stuff like Russian Terminator suits being taken seriously now because some Russian EOD specialists got to try out prototyping/using some new passive exoskeletons?

    Is there a reason why our troops aren’t using these? Because I remember seeing articles about them like a decade ago or something. These passive-style exoskeletons I mean.

  • RealitiCzech

    Even the Russians have gotten soft. In the good old days you used political prisoners and Wehrmacht guys to clear mines.

    • Budi Utomo

      Nice to see a Solzhenitsyn reader.

  • RazorHawk

    I’d love to buy one of these, Russia should export these to the civilian markets around the world.

    • Budi Utomo

      There are lots of fantastic companies globally that are state-owned, and severely under-capacity- they should market a lot of their equipment to USA consumers. I give one example in my country is a company called PT LEN- manufactures high precision electronics and touch-screen avionics (like Garmin etc) for many Airbus and local aerospace. Government muttered something about using the same production lines to make middle-of-range Galaxy-like Android tablets which would sell for Rp1.000.000 (USD $75.00). BUT no news yet. And even less money for marketing. But I am sure there is huge market for avionics and advanced display units/control screens in USA. Sad. :(. Much capability, not taken advantage of.

  • Young Freud
  • Salty

    Nice nod to Starship Troopers at the end there 😉

  • Budi Utomo

    It’s very clever application- the fatigue which is very serious issue for de-mining and unexploded ordinance is a major factor for human error- is minimized through the load-bearing system. this would allow de-miners to work longer shifts, allowing higher productivity and less downtime.

  • Budi Utomo

    But it has Lucas Electrics D:

  • Simon Grushka

    OK, it’s a bit off topic, but…- how would you call the color (or “colour” even) of the second (from the left) and third sapper? the one on the wears clothes in coyote brown, but the other do not. and it doesn’t look (to me) like OD :S