Analysis: Russian MoD employs Pantsir-S SPAAGMS against UAVs

The Russian military intensifies using its Pantsir-S (NATO reporting name: SA-22 Greyhound) self-propelled anti-aircraft guided missile systems (SPAAGMs) against unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), according to the country’s Ministry of Defense (MoD).

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Analysis Russian MoD employs Pantsir S SPAAGMS against UAVs

Pantsir-S1M air defense system displayed at Army-2019. This variant of the S1 has been optimized to shoot down also new-generation small and fast drones (Picture source: Army Recognition)

On February 7, the Pantsir-S systems of the Southern Military District (YuVO) repelled a simulated attack of UAVs: the weapons detected, recognized, and destroyed the aerial targets at a safe distance. According to the military, the drones were successfully destroyed. It should be mentioned that the Pantsir-S systems were used as a counter-UAV asset covering more valuable S-400 Triumf (SA-21 Growler) long-range air defense weapons.

The export-oriented Pantsir-S, Pantsir-S1, is also popular in the global arms market. According to the TASS news agency, Russia and Myanmar inked an agreement to deliver the Pantsir-S1 SPAAGMs to Naypyidaw on January 22.

The initial variant of the Pantsir-S1 was unveiled in the mid-2000s, and even at that moment the system was capable of engaging one of the most dangerous threats, namely reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs). However, the drones of that period were large medium-to-high-speed targets with large radar cross-sections. The Greyhound was good at shooting down such unmanned vehicles, posing a substantial threat to reconnaissance drones.

Since the early 2000s, the development of UAVs has received a large impetus. The drones have turned into compact (and even sub-compact) aerial platforms the are capable of carrying both intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) subsystems and small weapons.

However, the Pantsir-S1 has not stood idle: the system has passed through three large upgrades at least. In 2008, the SPAAGM’s developer, the Tula-based Instrument Design Bureau (KBP, a subsidiary of Rostec’s High-Precision Systems), unveiled the basic KAMAZ-6560-based Pantsir-S1 with a rotating search radar. By 2015, the Greyhound’s sensor suite was updated — the SPAAGM has received a pyramidic radar with two inclined arrays. Therefore, the system’s scanning area was doubled.

In 2019. Russia also unveiled a tracked modification of the Pantsir-S1. The SPAAGM has retained the baseline model’s armament suite.

Russia has also developed a dramatically updated variant of the baseline Pantsir-S1. The modernized system designated Pantsir-S1M ('M' for Upgraded, Modernizirovanniy) was unveiled at the Army 2019 defense show held in Kubinka near Moscow.

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