When we talk about Air Defense in modern theater of warfare, SAMs (surface to air missiles) are one of most effective weapons against aerial threats as it can swiftly neutralize such threats at farther ranges. During cold war, both USA and USSR invested heavily in SAMs. USSR introduced several SAM systems since start of cold war including Tunguska (Sa-19 Grison) belonging to the LOMAD (low to medium air defense system) family of AD (air defense) systems. After the cold war Russia needed modification in its AD weapons and hence, they created Pantsir S-1 (SA-22 Grey Hound) as the replacement of Tunguska.
The Pantsir S-1 missile system is a self-propelled surface-to-air missile system. It is designed to provide point air defense of the vulnerable points (VPs) against aircraft, helicopter, precision munitions, cruise missiles, and unmanned air vehicles. The Pantsir S-1 is highly mobile and uses a search and acquisition radar for searching the tgt (target) and a dual waveband tracking radar that operates in the UHF and EHF waveband for guiding of the missiles and the AA Gun. The detection range is 19 nm or 36 km and the tracking range is 15 nm or 28 km for a target having RCS of 2m^2. The system has a 360-degree coverage and both the sensors use passive electronically scanned array. There is also a thermal imaging sensor that is capable of detecting, acquiring, and tracking targets even in low visibility conditions.
Pantsir S-1 is unique system in its class as it is a LOMAD as well as a SHORAD (short to medium range air defense system) thanks to the inclusion of anti-aircraft artillery in a single platform. There are 12 tubes of surface-to-air missiles having the 57E6 missiles (a two-stage solid-fuel radio command guided missile) or 57E6-E (in export variants). The missile tubes are arranged into two groups of 6 sealed, ready to launch container tubes on the turret. The missiles have a range of 20 km or 11 nm, a maximum speed of Mach 3, altitude coverage of 50000 ft and carry a 20 kg high explosive fragmentation warhead. Anti-aircraft artillery is the two dual 2A38M, 30 mm autocannon that are fitted with 1400 rounds. The crew can choose the kind of ammunitions depending on the nature of the target which includes high explosive fragmentation or armor-piercing rounds. The maximum rate of fire is 5000 rounds per minute per gun. The cannon has a range of 4 km or 2nm up to an altitude of 3km or 10000 feet and possess a secondary capability to attack ground targets.
The system in discussion can be mounted on wheeled or track trucks or can be used as fixed Air defense system on ground and is also available in container variant as well as a special version for use in arctic (icy terrain) conditions is also there that is mounted on an articulated track vehicle.
Due to high mobility the system is also available to commit while on the move which makes it a very potent threat to enemy CAS (close air support) assets in the air. Several upgraded Pantsir variants are also in development. The Pantsir-SM, announced in 2016, will supposedly feature a detection range of up to 75 km and an engagement range of 40 km. Russia first tested the Pantsir-SM in early 2019. An export variant of the Pantsir-SM, the Pantsir-S1M, incorporates a new missile and features an engagement range of 30 km.
The system components of a Pantsir S-1 battery include a command and control post, combat vehicle, maintenance vehicles and missile loader. Optionally it also incorporates a simulator for the purpose of training of Air Defense Controllers. Training aids make it possible to efficiently train personnel in tgt engagement at minimal costs to ensure high results in actual combat
The Pantsir S-1 is the best in its class Air Defense System, it can provide protection against any modern air attack ensuring timely protection of high value assets and vulnerable points.
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