Russia deploys several Pantsir-S1 air defense missile/cannon systems to Belarus

According to a video and a statement published by the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD)on January 28, 2022, a train with military equipment of the CSS (Combat Service Support) of the Eastern Military District left the Amur region for the Republic of Belarus. The video published by the Russia MOD shows several Pantsir-S1 air defense missiles/cannons systems arriving in Belarus.
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According to a video published by the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Russian army has deployed Pantsir-S1 air defense systems to Belarus. (Picture source Screen Shot video footage Russian MoD)

Citing Russian Ministry of Defense, this deployment of Russian military equipment to Belarus is part of a reinforcement of the protection and defense of important state and military facilities, the protection of the state border in the airspace, checking the readiness and ability of the air defense forces and means on duty to perform tasks to cover important objects on the territory of the Republic of Belarus.

During the second stage of this deployment (from February 10 to 20), a joint exercise Union Courage–2022 will be held, within the framework of which the issues of suppressing and repelling external aggression, as well as countering terrorism and protecting the interests of the Union State will be worked out.

During the exercise, measures will be taken to strengthen the protection of the state border to prevent the penetration of armed groups of militants, to block the channels of weapons and ammunition delivery, as well as to search, block, destroy illegal armed formations and sabotage and reconnaissance groups of the enemy.

The main exercises the Russian troops will take place at the ranges Domanovsky, Gozhsky, Obuz-Lesnovsky, Brestsky, and Osipovichsky, as well as certain areas of the terrain located on the territory of the Republic of Belarus. It is planned to use the airfields Baranovichi, Luninets, Lida, and Machulishchi.

The Pantsir-S1 is one of the more efficient short/medium-range air defense systems in the world. The air defense system is based on 8x8 military truck chassis with a weapon station mounted at the rear of the truck.

The Pantsir S-1 is armed with twelve 57E6 surface-to-air guided missiles and two 2A38M30-millimetre automatic guns developed from the two-barreled 30mm GSh-30 gun. With its 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. With its gun weapons, the Pantsir-S1 can destroy aerial targets at a maximum range of 4 km and a maximum altitude of 3 km.

Currently, there is no equivalent of the Russian Pantsir-S1 air defense system in NATO countries, but in the 1960s, Germany had developed the Gepard, an anti-aircraft self-propelled gun system based on the Leopard 1 MBT (Main Battle Tank) tracked chassis. The Gepard is still in service with Brazil, Romania, Jordan, and Qatar. Some vehicles are in storage in the Netherlands and Germany. 

The Gepard is fitted with a turret armed with two 35 mm Oerlikon KDA automatic cannons able to destroy aerial targets with an effective air defense range of about 3,500 m and more than 4,500 m with the FAPDS (Frangible Armor Piercing Discarding Sabot) ammunition. The concept of the frangible sub-caliber projectile without primer and explosives was specially developed for engaging hard and semi-hard targets. Its short time of flight, high accuracy, and destructive power of its frangible tungsten core make the insensitive FAPDS-T ammunition an extremely efficient means of defending infantry fighting vehicles and surface combatants.

The Gepard is also equipped with two radars including an S-Band search radar at the rear of the turret and the tracking radar, and a laser rangefinder, at the front between the guns. The radars provide 360° scanning with simultaneous target tracking, clutter suppression, search on the move capability, and monopulse tracking mode. Both radars have a maximum range of 15 km.

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German-made Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft armored vehicle is based on Leopard 1 main battle tank tracked chassis. (Picture source KMW)

Poland has also developed a self-propelled air defense system called ZSU-23-4MP "Biała" based on the Soviet-made ZSU-23-2 armed with four 23mm caliber automatic cannons. It can destroy aerial targets such as aircraft, helicopters, surface-to-air missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, airborne forces, unarmored and lightly armored land targets.

The ZSU-23-4MP Biała is equipped with a new digital optical targeting system. It keeps the original 23mm automatic cannons, but the roof of the turret is also armed with 4 Grom surface-to-air missile launchers (MANPADS). With the 23mm cannons, the Biala can destroy aerial targets at a maximum range of 3.5 km and 5.5 km with the GROM surface-to-air missiles.

The ZSU-23-4MP Biała is also equipped with new tracking and detection radar which has a range from 8 to 10 km while the tracking radar has a range from 7 to 8 km.

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Polish army ZSU-23-4MP "Biała" self-propelled anti-aircraft air defense missile systems armed with four 23mm automatic cannons and four GROM surface-to-air missiles. (Picture source Poland MoD)