Jan 30, 2021
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Theft of “Pantsir-C1”: What exactly will the Pentagon find out by taking apart our air defense system into cogs

In the photo: Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft missile-gun system

In the photo: Pantsir-C1 anti-aircraft missile-gun system (Photo: Anton Novoderezhkin / TASS)

Pentagon spokesman Jessica McNulty left from a direct answer to the press question about the abduction of the Russian anti-aircraft missile system (SAM) “Pantsir-S1E” by the Americans in Libya. At the same time, she admitted that the US military department is aware of the publication of the British The Times, which described the details of the operation. Will the Russian military-industrial complex lose secrets related to the air defense system?

According to the British publication, “Pantsir-C1”, formerly owned by the Libyan National Army Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, was taken out by special forces from the battlefield and delivered by a C-17A Globemaster III transport aircraft to the American military base “Ramstein” in Germany, where it is still located. The Libyans received our air defense system from the UAE.

The reason for the removal of the air defense system announced by the Americans – fears that weapons will fall into the hands of terrorists – is only part of the possible truth. Most likely, the Pentagon wants to thoroughly study the complex: its material part, operating principles, software. This information can then be used against Russia by both the Americans themselves and their allies.

“Armor” performed well both in Libya and Syria. But there were cases when the enemy managed to destroy Russian air defense systems. The Turkish Baitakar attack drones may pose a significant threat to them. The press calls these machines the “shell killer”. The modern version of drones, presented recently by the manufacturer, is planned to be delivered to Ukraine.

– There are at least three types of configuration of the land air defense system, – says chief editor of the portal Military russiaRU Dmitry Kornev… – The old configuration is the one we see among the Arabs. A more recent one – with a new target detection station – on top of a radar of a different shape she has. And the latest, which was shown last year, where other missiles are also used. In Libya, there was an old version – “Pantsir-C1”, produced around the mid-2000s.

These air defense systems were delivered to the UAE, to brigades in the Moscow region and possibly elsewhere. Apparently, the UAE, helping its proxy formations in Libya, supplied them with their “Shells”. One of them was destroyed by a drone over a year ago (there are other cases – ed.). The videos went viral on the web. And now the air defense missile system was captured and taken away.

“SP”: – The media is circulating information that the Libyan export “Pantsiri-C1” had only an optical control system …

– This is hardly possible. The main control system of Pantsir-C1 is radar. It is duplicated by a television optical system, which have been used since the time of the modernized air defense systems “Kub” and “Buk”. Radar is an integral part of the “Shell”. No one has ever seen this air defense system without a radar. So even on the old “Shells” both systems should work.

“SP”: The UAE is the closest ally of the United States. How did they get our air defense systems?

– Let me remind you that “Pantsir” was created mainly with the money of the UAE. There was a fairly old project of creating an air defense system for the landing – a lightweight version of the “Tungusski”, the prototype of the “Pantsire”. But in the 1990s, when the funds of the military-industrial complex were very poor, the idea arose to implement the project for money and in the interests of a foreign customer.

This was all the time then. For example, China, purchasing our Su aircraft, saved the Irkutsk Aviation Plant. Submarine production survived in a similar way. The same is with the developer of “Shell”. The revision of this air defense system was financed by the UAE and subsequently received these complexes in the old configuration on the German four-axle MAN chassis.

“SP”: – The type of chassis is a fundamental point?

– Not. In addition to the MAN chassis, the Pantsiri were installed on KamAZ trucks, on four-axle Urals, on the BAZ chassis of the Bryansk plant, which were tested at Kapustin Yar, and on Minsk MZKT. This complex can stand without a chassis at all: on a trailer or on a ship. You just need to comply with certain requirements: power generator, air conditioning system and, perhaps, everything.

Military expert, reserve colonel Viktor Litovkin not inclined to exaggerate the danger of losing secrets.

– There is nothing wrong with the capture of our “Pantsir” by the Americans. When we supply equipment abroad, we always keep in mind that it can fall into the wrong hands. Neither the Turks, nor the Egyptians, nor the Algerians have faith. It is clear that they are friends with the Americans and will sell for money. Therefore, the tactical and technical characteristics of the air defense system are coarse, in comparison with the equipment for our military.

When in the 1990s the Belarusians sold something to the Americans, the designer of the S-300 V (tracked air defense system) Veniamin Efremov he explained to me that they will split the software of this complex for twenty years even on high-speed computers. And Russia will go very far forward during this time.

“SP”: – But if they split, they can transfer secrets to the Turks. Their “Baitakars” in Libya threatened the “Armor” quite successfully, and soon the Turks will sell them to Kiev …

– Turkish drones are not so dangerous for the “Pantsir”. Our air defense system can easily shoot them down. Anything that flies at an altitude of 10-12 kilometers and within a radius of several tens of kilometers is available to him. Unlike the same American Patriot, which was unable to cope with the Houthi attack on the Saudi oil plant, since it could not work on low-flying targets.

But in order to shoot down targets, the military must constantly be on alert, monitor the air situation. And if someone is asleep, turns off the radar of the air defense system, and then wonders why it was hit, then there is nothing to be done. This is called negligence, lack of professionalism. So it was in Libya, where the Arabs either slept or went to namaz.

The Pantsir has manual and automatic tracking modes. But the decision to work against the goal is still made by a person. You never know what flies there. Maybe an eagle.

“SP”: – It turns out that you shouldn’t worry too much …

– You need to be calmer. Not like a rally. The fact that the “Armor” fell into the hands of the Americans does not mean that they must now be thrown out.

Another example … When we parted with Ukraine and began to establish the production of military equipment and its components in Russia, much had to be done anew, although there were drawings and all the necessary information. It turned out that literally everything affects the characteristics, up to the quality of the ore used for metal smelting. So it will be difficult for Americans to imitate us.

By the way, we did that too. In the museum in Kubinka, there are American tanks that we took out from Egypt, from Iraq.

– Even if the Americans really captured our air defense system, it is very difficult to disassemble it and understand how it works, all the more so to reproduce, – sums up Professor of the Academy of Military Sciences Sergey Sudakov… – It is easy to understand by the example of the automobile industry. You can buy a Mercedes legally, but you can hardly make it of the same quality.

The military equipment supplied by Russia for export has other, reduced characteristics. Just like Japanese or Korean cars for the domestic and foreign markets are different. We always assume that our military equipment can be captured by the enemy and take measures in advance.

“SP”: – There are simply fears that the United States will share secrets with the Turks and they will use them against us in the same Ukraine. Although this requires a certain level of trust between Washington and Ankara …

– Countries trust each other when it suits them. The same Turkey, when it needs it, remembers that it has been a NATO member since 1953. And when he wants to buy Russian S-400, he speaks differently. It’s very situational. But we must remember that empires always play only for themselves.

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