Russia considers buying French FELIN infantry combat suits
France's FELIN infantry combat suit shown at the MAKS-2009 air show in Zhukovsky near Moscow has attracted the attention of the Russian Defense Ministry, which may consider buying it.
FELIN (Integrated Equipment and Communications Infantryman) combines a modified FAMAS rifle with a host of other electronics, clothing, pouches, and body armor. The integral SPECTRA helmet is fitted with a real-time positioning and information system and light amplifiers for night vision.
The Russian military is in talks with France's Sagem of the Safran group, which developed FELIN, on the possibility of buying the suits, the newspaper has learned from a source in the Russian Defense Ministry and an employee of an aircraft manufacturing company close to Sagem.
A Russian officer said that the French body armor and other individual protection systems are inferior to U.S. or German-made systems, but FELIN's electronic elements are extremely attractive. According to his information, the French have expressed a readiness to Russify the software and adjust the electronic systems to Russian tactical norms and designations.
The purchase of FELIN suits would be reasonable only if Russia also gets the related technology, said Mikhail Barabanov, an editor at the Moscow Defense Brief magazine.
Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said the French partners could agree to turn over the technology, and that this would not damage France's security even though it is a NATO member.
However, there was a case when the purchase of French weapons damaged the importer. During the Falklands War in 1982, France disclosed to Britain the codes for the anti-ship missiles it had supplied to Argentina. However, it did so only after its closest ally put powerful pressure on it, and this in a highly dramatic situation.
Pukhov said that France would not do this for Georgia or any other post-Soviet country where weapons incorporating French systems could be used.
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