The Pantsir S-1 (NATO: SA-22 Greyhound) is a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun and missile (SPAAGM) system designed by Russia.
Pantsir S-1 at a Glance
- Originated from
- Possessed by
- Algeria, Brazil, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Oman, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Syria, UAE, Vietnam
- Alternate Names
- Pantsyr, SA-22 Greyhound, “Carapace” (Russian translation)
- Surface-to-Air (SAM)
- Mobile, ground-based
- 20 kg high-explosive fragmentation (57E6 missile)
- 20 km (Pantsir-S1), 30 km (Pantsir-S1M), 40 km (Pantsir-SM)
- In Service
Russia’s KBP Instrument Design Bureau began development of the Pantsir in 1989 as a replacement for the 2K22 Tunguska air defense system.1 Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, requirements for the system changed. Instead of providing defense for airfields, missile silos, command centers, and communication arrays, the Pantsir was redefined as a short-range defense for Russian ground forces and longer range air defense systems like the S-300, S-400, and S-500.2 The finalized Pantsir design entered service in 2003.
The Pantsir air defense system incorporates anti-aircraft guns and missiles to intercept tactical aircraft, precision-guided munitions (PGMs), and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Using its solid-state search radar, the Pantsir can track up to 20 tactical aircraft-sized targets at a range of 32-36 km. After detection, the system can select targets with its high-frequency engagement radar or optional thermal imaging sensor. Although each Pantsir launch vehicle is capable of functioning independently, they typically operate in batteries of six launcher vehicles and are occasionally accompanied by a separate command and control vehicle.3
The baseline Pantsir system is equipped with up to twelve 57E6 missiles and two 30mm 2A38M cannons, allowing it to engage up to four targets simultaneously. The 57E6 is a two-stage missile with radio-command guidance and 20 kg blast-fragmentation warhead. A variant of the 57E6, the 9M335, features a continuous-rod fragmentation warhead.4 Both missile variants are 3.3 m long, 170 mm in diameter, and weigh 75.7 kg at launch.5
Using 57E6 missiles, the Pantsir-S1 can engage tactical aircraft at a maximum range of 20 km and altitude of 10 km, subsonic cruise missiles at a range of 12 km and altitude of 6 km, and high-speed air-to-ground missiles at a range of 7 km and altitude of 6 km. At targets perpendicular to the system’s orientation, missile engagement ranges are halved.6 The 57E6 also possesses a minimum engagement range of 1.5 km.7
Using its guns, the Pantsir-S1 can engage airborne targets at 4 km at a maximum altitude of 3km.8 Each gun can fire up to 40 rounds per second and possess a secondary capability to attack ground targets.9
In 2020, Pantsir’s chief designer disclosed the existence of two new Pantsir-compatible missiles. The first—with a smaller fragmentation warhead and top speed of Mach 5—has reportedly entered Russian service. The second missile remains under development and is estimated to enter production between 2023 and 2024. Designed to defeat small unmanned aerial vehicles, the missile will possess a maximum range of 5-7 km and a reduced size, allowing for up to 48 to be fitted on a Pantsir turret.10
Several upgraded Pantsir variants are 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.11
Russia first tested the Pantsir-SM in early 2019.12
An export variant of the Pantsir-SM, the Pantsir-S1M, incorporates a new missile and features an engagement range of 30 km.13
Outside of Russia, Pantsir operators include Algeria, Brazil, Gaza and the West Bank (Hezbollah), Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Syria, the UAE, and Vietnam.14
Since 2013, Russia has deployed Pantsir S-1 to Syria amid the country’s civil war to defend its soldiers and Syrian government forces.15
The Pantsir has also played a role in the Russian/Ukrainian conflict. Notably, pieces from a Pantsir 57E6 missile were found in Ukraine in November 2014, and in December, it was confirmed that Russia had deployed the air defense system to the Russia-Ukraine border region.16 In February 2015, reports and footage of Pantsirs being used by pro-Russian forces in Ukraine’s Donetsk region surfaced.17 The system has also been deployed in the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine.18
In June 2020, the United States smuggled a Pantsir-S1 out of Libya after it was captured from forces aligned with Russia-backed Khalifa Haftar. U.S. forces reportedly transferred the Pantsir-S1 from Zuwarah International Airport to Ramstein Air Base in Germany.19
- Christopher F. Foss, “Pantsyr Family,” in Jane’s Land Warfare Platforms: Artillery and Air Defense (London: IHS Global, 2016), 623.
- Ibid, 623.
- Nikolai Spassky et al., Russia’s Arms and Technologies: The XXI Century Encyclopedia, Volume 9: Air and Ballistic Missile Defense, (Moscow: Publishing House “Arms and Technologies,” 2004).
- Foss, 626.
- Spassky, 141-143.
- “Pantsir creator: The system has been modified to combat mini-drones” TASS, January 29, 2020, https://tass.ru/interviews/7623815.
- Spassky, 134.
- Ibid; “Russian troops to get 27 Pantsyr anti-aircraft missile/gun systems in 2019,” TASS, December 4, 2019, https://tass.com/defense/1095421
- TASS, 2020.
- “New targeting system to double range of Russia’s Pantsir air defense system” TASS, October 6, 2016, https://tass.com/defense/904503
- Seth J. Frantzman, “Russia says it tested latest Pantsir-SM air defense system,” The Jerusalem Post, April 8, 2019, https://www.jpost.com/International/Russia-says-it-tested-latest-Pantsir-SM-air-defense-system-586005.
- “New Pantsir-S1M upgraded after Syria to be able to hit any drones – designer,” TASS, May 16, 2019, https://tass.com/defense/1058576.
- Christopher F. Foss, “Pantsyr Family,” in Jane’s Land Warfare Platforms: Artillery and Air Defense (London: IHS Global, 2016), 625.
- “Russia sending advanced air defenses to Syria: sources,” Reuters, September 11, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-arms-idUSKCN0RB1Q020150911.
- Armament Research Services, “Russian 96Kd v6 Pantsir-S1 air defense system in Ukraine,” February 19, 2015, http://armamentresearch.com/russian-96k6-pantsir-s1-air-defence-system-in-ukraine/.
- European Union Foreign Affairs Journal, “The Boris Nemtsov Report in English, in full length: ‘Putin’. The War,’ about the Involvement of Russia in the Eastern Ukraine conflict and the Crimea,” http://www.libertas-institut.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/EUFAJ-Special-NemtsovReport-150521.pdf, 35.
- Maksymilian Czuperski, “Hiding in Plain Sight: Putin’s War in Ukraine,” May 2015, http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/images/publications/Hiding_in_Plain_Sight/HPS_English.pdf, 21.
- Joseph Trevithick, “The United States Smuggled A Russian-Made Pantsir Air Defense System Out Of Libya: Report,” The Drive, January 27, 2021, https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/38964/the-united-states-smuggled-a-russian-made-pantsir-air-defense-system-out-of-libya-report.