On 7 March, 2017, Russian Izvestia news agency ran a story under a rather bombastic heading “Spetsnaz orders “anatomic” uniforms”. Uniform in question seems to be, more or less, a copy of spetsnaz popular Crye Precision’s G3 Combat Pant and Filed Shirt, albeit in the A-TACS FG (Foliage/Green) camouflage pattern.
Branded “anatomical” by Izvestia, due to its fitted knee pads, adjustable waist, popliteal, ankle and wrist fasteners – just on like Crye Precision’s G3 set. An order for this particular battledress has been placed by the Federal Protection Service(FSO), although back in 2015 it was initially trailed with what were Vityaz (Knight) Interior Ministry(MVD) Troops(VV) spetsnaz, now under National Guard or Rosgvardiya.
A group of companies behind this battledress is known as Kondor/Condor consortium. Set up as a professional garments manufacturer in the early 1990s, its products soon gained a foothold in the defence and security sectors, and by 1996, it increasingly shifted its production to uniforms and combat gear. In many ways, Condor’s product range was, and some of it still is, stuck in the old ways.
Take this Soviet designed backpack, known as veshchmeshok, it traces its roots back to the 19th Century Russian Imperial Army, and is a good example of Kondor’s obsolete but extant offering.
In 2014, much needed new blood was injected into the company in the shape of ALLMULTICAM project and its expert on spetsnaz combat and tactical gear – Ivan Lobanov. ALLMULTICAM partnered with quite a few Western companies. According to Condor CEO Sergey Goncharov, around half constituents in ALLMULTICAM products are of foreign, often Western, origin. Or at least they were.
In that same year, E.U. and U.S. imposed economic sanctions against Russia over Ukraine crisis. Consequently, Russian government started to push for import substitution. Furthermore, with plummeting rouble, price of Cry Precision G3 Filed Shirt and Combat Pant set at $350 became rather hefty for most spetsnaz officers – who often finance their own kit.
Then in 2015, during the Army-2015 exhibition, a new brand called 5.45 DESIGN – a joint venture between Kalashnikov Concern and ALLMULTICAM – was launched. Primary focus of this new venture was design and manufacture of high-end spetsnaz tactical gear. In addition, 5.45 DESIGN synergised ALLMULTICAM’s vigour for real-combat practicality and contemporary solutions and Kalashnikov’s expertise in electromechanics, resulting in one of their more ambitious joint projects – gyrostabilised gun platform.
Back in February, 2017, Izvestia reported that “second skin” base layer set named Fantom(Phantom), designed by 5.45 and manufactured by Condor, has been procured by the Special Operations Forces(SSO), Federal Security Service(FSB) spetsnaz and Rosgvaridya. According to its manufacturer, the Fantom set is engineered to disperse moisture during activity and redistribute heat from within the garment air pockets, if and when, wearer gets cold. Sensationalist gloating aside, the report makes an important and interesting point – it claims that whilst before this kind of kit used to be purchased privately, the Fantom sets are now issued on a regular basis to the SSO, FSB and Rosgvardiya spetsnaz. Apparently, Fantom base layer set is manufactured using imported Italian machinery.
Then on 9 March, 2017, Izvestia published an article about another Condor consortium product – Night Cap – that has been procured by the FSB and SSO spetsnaz respectively. Seemingly of an innovative design, it is essentially a night vision(NV) headgear-cum-cap. Unsurprisingly, it appears to be influenced by SEAL popularised Pro-Tec skateboarding helmet, in particular its later ballistic derivatives, such as Ops-Core helmet. Its manufacturer claims that Night Cap is flexible, breathable, foldable and fully adjustable. It features night vision mount, NV counterweight pouches and beacon fitting, with ears left exposed for communication headset. Its ballistic specification is unclear but it probably can be Kevlar lined to offer a very basic protection without radically impacting on its weight and flexibility.
Modern multilayered combat systems can be quite expensive, even more so if purchased aboard for deprecating rouble. Russia is still experiencing shortcomings when it comes to advanced textile manufacturing techniques and methods, but with the ongoing government impetus for domestic this situation might change for the better in not too distant future. At present it seems that Russia is striving for indigenous manufacture of advanced, durable, breathable and low burn risk fabrics, that shall eventually be on par with their Western counterparts. It remains to be seen what becomes of this endeavour.
All images: Condor © 2017