The Russian Armed Forces are looking more advanced and cost-effectivity air defense system to replace “troubled” Pantsir (SA-22 according to the NATO designation) anti-aircraft defense system.
According to sources in the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the Russian Army and Navy are dissatisfied with Pantsir complex and looking on absolute new air defense systems. For the army, the Pantsir air defense system proved too heavy, complex and not effective to protect against most of the potential threats. To protect the ships in the coastal zone and in harbors, the naval version of Pantsir has also become too expensive and not very effective.
Pantsir is a medium-range surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapon system that has combined missiles and guns. But during a real operation in Syria was revealed a number of technical flaws of Pantsir system that designed to provide point air defense of military and industrial installations against aircraft, helicopters, precision munitions, cruise missiles and UAVs and to provide additional protection to air defense units from enemy air attacks employing precision munitions especially at the low to extremely low ranges.
What’s more, Pantsir-S1 missile defense system took a direct hit during an Israeli airstrike in Syria.
On 21 January, the Israeli military says it has hit Iranian and Syrian targets around Damascus, including advanced Pantsir-S1 air defense system.
“During our strike, dozens of Syrian surface-to-air missiles were launched, despite clear warnings to avoid such fire. In response, we also targeted several of the Syrian Armed Forces’ aerial defense batteries,” the military statement said.
Also, Israeli military released footage showing the several Russian-made Pantsir-S1 (SA-22 according to the NATO designation) missile defense systems took a direct hit during an Israeli airstrike in Syria.
This is not the first case when the Israeli Air Force destroys the Pantsir-S1 system with impunity. On May 10, 2018, Israeli fighter jets struck several military targets in Syria, including Russian-built Pantsir-S1system.
Radar of the air defense system can’t keep up with acquisition and tracking of small size targets, like as drones and precision munitions. During the defense of the Russian military base in the province of Latakia, most enemy targets were shot down with cannon weapons, which does not guarantee protection against high-speed attacks and creates a threat of concomitant destruction.
Currently, attempts are being made to develop for Russian Air Force new advanced version, called the Pantsir-SM, with latest electronics, radar, and new missiles. A new project is being funded by selling the existing version of “troubled” air defense systems abroad at a low price.