The confrontation between the Russian-made Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft artillery-missile systems and Turkish UAVs in Syria and Libya is unprecedented in modern war history.

Some reports say at least 15 Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft artillery systems have been destroyed in Libya.
Some reports say at least 15 Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft artillery systems have been destroyed in Libya.

Pantsir-S1 Assassin

Prior to fighting in Libya, the Russian-made Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft artillery-missile complexes were “bright stars” when it proved extremely effective at the Syrian fire pan.

If in Syrian air defense, Pantsir-S1 gets five points, in Russia’s hand it reaches 10/10 points. Pantsir-S1 is known as the assassin of low-range flying targets with very small radar reflex area such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or cruise missiles.

Turkey-made UAVs were destroyed by Pantsir-S1 in Libya.
Turkey-made UAVs were destroyed by Pantsir-S1 in Libya.

In the hands of the Russians, Pantsir-S1 protects the heads of the Russian Army at the Khmeimim military airport and the Port of Tartous in Syria. It excellently completed its mission without leaving any dangerous targets to threaten Russian bases.

Remember, rebel homemade UAVs are made from a variety of materials such as wood, composite and foam. Its radar reflex area is very small, like stealthy targets, but still destroyed, unable to harm Russian forces.

Of course, a great contribution to this achievement is due to Russia has many advanced reconnaissance vehicles, early warning and accurate target indicators for air defense complexes, including Pantsir-S1, ready to fight in time and destroy.

As for Syrian air defense, Pantsir-S1 received only 5 points. Despite many successes, especially in the fierce confrontation with the “new, beautiful and intelligent” missile of the US-UK-France coalition in April 2018, the Syrian air defense still lost at least 2 Pantsir-S1 combination for Israeli suicide drones.

In addition, Turkey also announced the destruction of up to eight of these Syrian air defense systems in Idlib. However, the Russian Ministry of Defense immediately denied and confirmed that, in the war zone, only a total of 4 Pantsir-S1 complexes and confirmed 2 of them were damaged but were quickly repaired to come back to fight.

Those are black spots that make the image of Russian Pantsir-S1 shine less. But whatever you say, this artillery-air defense complex deserves the nickname “UAV assassin” and emerges as a bright star in the low-flying anti-target weapons club. Many countries are interested in ordering.

A complex of Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft artillery missiles was destroyed by Turkey UAVs in Libya.
A complex of Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft artillery missiles was destroyed by Turkey UAVs in Libya.

From hunter become to prey

A few days ago, Ukraine’s Defense Express news website revealed a shocking statistic: Turkish UAVs destroyed at least 23 Russian-made Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft artillery systems. 8 of them were on the Syrian battlefield, the rest were in Libya. If Israel’s achievements are included, it will be even greater.

However, the figures that Defense Express gives are unreliable because they also do not provide any concrete evidence of the damage of Pantsir-S1 in Libya. The number of eight complexes destroyed by Turkey’s UAVs in Syria was immediately rejected by the Russian Ministry of Defense and only acknowledged that two complexes were damaged and repaired, not destroyed.

It is clear that this Ukrainian news page deliberately defames Russia because of the serious disagreements of the two neighboring countries that were once brothers.

But it must be confirmed that Pantsir-S1 was destroyed, even captured in large numbers in Libya. Statistics based on published images show that the closest estimate is about 10 destroyed Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft artillery systems, including 2 in Syria and 8 in Libya.

Statistics on the heated war between Turkey UAV and Pantsir-S1 in Syria and Libya.
Statistics on the heated war between Turkey UAV and Pantsir-S1 in Syria and Libya.

In turn, Pantsir-S1 also destroyed dozens of advanced Turkey UAVs in both Libya and Syria. Even the Turkish Air Force RF-4 reconnaissance plane had to taste its misery.

The war between UAV and Pantsir-S1 has never been so fierce, the losses on each side are great, that’s inevitable, so is the war. However, in Libya, the loss of Pantsir-S1 was not because of its poor performance, but mostly due to tactical mistakes used by combat crews.

With Turkey’s massive “UAV swarm” tactic, the defending side (LNA Force led by General Haftar) did not respond effectively, partly due to lack of forces and dispersion, so the Pantsir-S1 complexes often independent combat. The Pantsir-S1 systems did not support, cover each other or work together to simultaneously fire and destroy targets in large numbers to break the opponent’s tactics.

Besides, the camouflage, prevention, and counterattack were not focused so Pantsir-S1 was easily detected and the price was very expensive.

The war will still be long, at this moment the Russians have noticed the weaknesses of Pantsir-S1 and will soon overcome, upgrade and release a more advanced new version. Then it will come to the battle with a new look, more and more powerful.

The Russians, despite their worries, have to accept a bitter truth that cannot improve soon. More Pantsir-S1 will be killed in Libya and even in Syria.

Expecting the Arab and North African nations to glorify Russian weapons on the battlefield is hopeless, the unsatisfactory results from a few decades ago continue to be extended.

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