Russia: Pancyr-S1 good, but to be corrected [KOMENTARZ]

According to the information provided by the Interfax agency, Russia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have started talks on the modernization of the short-range anti-aircraft systems “Pancyr-S1” delivered to this country in 2008-2013. The fact of conducting the negotiations was revealed by Dmitry Shugayev, director of the Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) of the Russian Federation during the air show Dubai Airshow-2021, which took place from November 14 to 18, 2021.

“We are discussing with our Emirati partners the possibility of upgrading the previously delivered Pancyr-S1 anti-aircraft missile systems. The modernization means a significant improvement in the facility’s capabilities. “

The Russians, however, did not want to talk about the scope of the changes being prepared, as it is yet to be agreed with the United Arab Emirates. However, it is assumed that the planned modernization may be combined with the previously announced creation of a service center on the territory of the UAE for the Russian military equipment delivered to that country. This would include allow a large part of the work to be carried out in the United Arab Emirates and by local specialists.

This is to be an additional incentive for further orders of Russian weapons. Purchases from Russia were called into question after losses, such as Pancyr-S1 sets suffered during the conflict in Syria (from Israeli aviation and circulating ammunition) and in Libya (from Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones). The “cold shower” was also the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, where Azerbaijan unmanned aerial vehicles destroyed the Russian “Tor”, “Buk” and S-300 sets with relatively impunity, despite the fact that they were protected by specialized electronic warfare systems obtained from Russia.


And yet the “Pancyr-S1” wheel set was advertised as having no “analogues” (equivalents) in the world: “short-range protection system of civilian and military objects against air attack in all weather and climatic conditions, day and night”, before air and ground threats. It was developed by the design office of KBP im. Shipunov, belonging to the NPO holding NPO “Vysokotnye komplieksy” in the industrial group “Rostiech” and was to become a Russian export hit, because indeed, in one complex it offered capabilities that no other mobile weapons system had.

What is to be corrected in “Pancyry”?

In their assessments, the Russians seem to completely ignore the information that comes mainly from Syria and Libya about the unsatisfactory effectiveness of the “Pancyr” in the fight against drones and precision ammunition. That is why the news provided by the Interfax agency also included the declaration of Dmitry Konoplev – managing director of the Shipunov ”, denying reports from recent armed conflicts.

“Pancyr” is effective against all existing assault drones, including the Turkish “Bayraktar” … Despite the advancement of unmanned technology, the Pancyr has introduced in advance those options and capabilities that unmanned aerial vehicles can achieve and will achieve. ‘

This is to reassure not only foreign customers, but also the Russians themselves, who are introducing “Pancyr” kits to their army en masse and entrusting them with the direct protection of their own strategic facilities and systems. In Syria, it is, for example, a cover against an air attack by the S-400 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system. In Russia, “Pancyry” is used to protect even the “Topol” and “Yars” mobile intercontinental missile launchers that have been launched into the area.

The problem of “Rostiech”, as it turns out, is not only the conclusions of the recent armed conflicts, but also the negative opinions of Russian specialists about the “Pancyra”. For example, the results of tests to be carried out by specialists from Vasilievskov Military Academy of Air Defense for the Armed Forces of Russia. They reportedly showed low effectiveness of such sets as “Buk-M1”, “Tor-M1”, “Osa-AKM”. “Tunguska-M1” and “Pancyr-S1” in relation to drones with an effective reflection area (SPO) less than 0.01 m2.


The detection range of such objects turns out to be smaller than the minimum range of the missiles included in these anti-aircraft systems. In the case of circulating ammunition, this means that missiles are not suitable for countering them. Artillery effectors also turn out to be ineffective. The research was to show that in the case of the “Tunguska” and “Pancyr” sets, to destroy targets with an effective reflection surface area less than 0.01 m2 with a hit probability of 0.5, at a distance of 3 km you need to fire from 4-13 thousand shots (2-6 units of fire), and at a distance of 1 km – from 500 to 1500 shots (0.3-0.8 units of fire).

Later, however, Russian media (such as began to deny that such research had taken place at all, pointing out that the duplicated data was an attempt to discredit Russian weapons by “foreign states”. It was also explained that Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones have a greater effective reflectance area than 0.01 m2, similarly to the Israeli Harop circling ammunition with an SPO estimated at 0.5 m2. The problem is that even with such large targets, the Russian anti-aircraft systems had such a short range that the drones were able to attack with missiles without entering the detection zone.

Another problem of the “Pancyr” (and “Tunguska”) sets has been revealed in the network, which is no longer related to the pre-observation radar, but to the 1RS2-1 weapon control radar operating in the Ku-band and developed by the NNIIRT institute. Again, according to unconfirmed data, it turned out that the coverage area of ​​this station does not include the lower layers – i.e. low-flying targets. This explains why the Pancyras were not sufficiently effective against drones, Israeli Delilah maneuvering missiles and French Scalp maneuvering missiles (launched from Rafale ships and planes).

This station theoretically has the ability to track targets at a distance of a maximum of 10 km and an altitude of 10,000 m, but it is most effective in relation to air objects operating at an altitude of 5000 m and a distance of 5 km (detection with a probability of 0.9). What is worse, it can only track one target and only after destroying it (e.g. being hit by a rocket) it can switch to another one. In addition, the accuracy of the Russian anti-aircraft missile guidance warhead, which can pass very small targets, must be added to all this. This was evident, for example, during operations in Syria with regard to Israeli guided ammunition.

In this negative assessment, however, it should be remembered that all these disadvantages of Russian anti-aircraft systems can be eliminated very quickly. The only problem for the Russians was that their institutes manipulated the data taking advantage of the incompetence of the Russian generals, which agreed to tests set according to the required results. Recent conflicts, however, have changed this approach by exposing the shortcomings of what was supposed to be perfect and showing what changes need to be made.

Can the characteristics of the weapons control radar be improved? – You can. Is it possible to increase the resistance of “Pancyra” to radioelectronic interference? – You can. Could the detection of small air targets be improved? – You can. If the Russians find the money for it (with the help of the UAE it may be possible), introduce programmable missiles into the artillery and invest in active radar antennas, the Pancyr sets will still have no analogues around the world – unless the Poles introduce rocket-artillery Loire-bis. But there is no preparation for that yet.

About Alex Marcell

He likes dogs, pizza and popcorn. Already a fanboy of Nintendo and Sony, but today throws anything. He has collaborated on sites and magazines such as GameBlast, Nintendo World, Hero and Portal Pop, but today is dedicated exclusively to Spark Chronicles.

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