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Russia’s Upgraded Pantsyr to ‘Counter Any Type of Drone’

Russia’s state-of-the-art Pantsyr-S1M surface-to-air missile system has been upgraded to detect and destroy all types of enemy drones, an official at the Rostec state tech corporation told TASS News Agency.

According to Rostec industrial director Bekkhan Ozdoyev, the weapon system has been modified to counter aerial threats, particularly strike drones. It has also been equipped with hypersonic missiles to boost its strike range from 20 kilometers (12 miles) to 30 kilometers (18 miles).

The upgrade has also reportedly improved the Pantsyr’s stealth and jamming resistance capabilities, as well as its rate of fire and operational altitude from 15 to 18 kilometers (9.3 to 11.1 miles).

The weapon’s multifunctional fire control radar and search radar have also been improved to detect and monitor up to 40 targets simultaneously. Its infrared target tracking station — featuring a laser rangefinder — has also been upgraded.

Russia signed the contract for initial delivery of the Pantsyr-S1M anti-aircraft missile system during the Army 2021 international arms show in August.

Pantsir-S air defense missile-gun system
A Russian Pantsir-S air defense missile-gun system during the final stage of the Keys to the Sky competition among air defense missile units at Ashuluk Firing Range, August 7, 2016. Image: Sergei Bobylev/Russian MoD/Tass

‘Basis for Tactical Air Defenses’

Rostec official Sergei Mikhailov believes that the upgraded Pantsyr could become the basis for a comprehensive air defense network against enemy drones, precision weapons, and combat aircraft.

He added that the weapon system fully complies with A2/AD (anti-access/area denial) principles, which allow it to prevent enemy penetration into critical military facilities.

Furthermore, Mikhailov emphasized that the ability to counter drones and other unmanned systems has become a vital consideration for present-day air defenses.

“Currently, the Russian industry produces two types of counter-drone capabilities: ‘soft-kill’ to suppress drones by electronic countermeasures, and ‘hard-kill’ to physically destroy UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles),” the official explained. “The Pantsyr-S1M will be [the] major component … for physically eliminating drones.”

In addition to its upgraded capabilities, Mikhailov revealed that the weapon system is “highly cost-efficient.” 

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