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Analysis 1/5: Review about Pantsir-M Russian-made medium-range naval air defense missile system

In November 2020, the Rusian Navy has commissioned its new Project 22800 Karakurt class Corvette ‘Odintsovo’, the first Russian warship equipped with the Pantsir-M, a naval version of the Russian-made medium-range air defense missile system Pantsir-S1 based on an 8x8 truck chassis.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Close-view of Pantsir-M naval air defense missile system mounted on Odintsovo corvette. (Picture source

The Russian Navy Odintsovo corvette has successfully passed the running and acceptance trials to test all mechanisms and arms. It test-fired a Kalibr cruise missile at a sea target in the White Sea.

In October 2020, the Odintsovo test-fired Pansir-M at air targets. Mi-6 small targets were released by Su-27 fighter jets of the Baltic fleet. They were all destroyed. Pantsir-M has now installed on project 22800 corvettes and other upgraded warships are to be armed with it. The complex is likely to become the main close-range air defense weapon of the Russian Navy.

Pantsir-M is a Russian jamming-resistant naval medium-range air defense system that entered into service with the Russian Navy in 2018. The naval weapon system is fitted with a total of eight tube launchers able to fire 57E6 missiles and Hermes-K missiles.  The 57E6 is a two-stage, solid-fuel, medium-range surface-to-air missile able to destroy aerials threats at ranges from 1.2 to 20 kilometers and altitudes from 5 to 10,000 meters. The Hermes-K is a guided missile featuring a multistage rocket missile with a high-powered booster and fire-and-forget capability with laser guidance and infrared homing. It has a maximum firing range of 30 km. Second armament of Pantsir-M includes two six-barreled 30×165mm GSh-6-30K/AO-18KD rotary cannons which have a maximum firing range of 5 km. 

Pantsir-M is fully automated and can engage up to four targets simultaneously at a range of up to 20 km and can operate as a battery of up to four modules. Pantsir-M can intercept sea skimming missiles flying as low as two meters above the surface.

At present, close-range air defense is ensured by Kortik 3M87 and AK-630, AK-630M, and AK-630 Duet and 3M89 Palash artillery guns. Kortik is installed on the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier of project 11435 (8 modules), heavy nuclear cruisers of project 1144 (six), the Admiral Chabanenko big antisubmarine ship of project 11551 (2), project 11549 frigates (2) and the Steregushchy lead corvette of project 20380 (1). The aircraft carrier and the Admiral Nakhimov cruiser are undergoing an overhaul and modernization.

Palash was designed as an antiaircraft missile complex, however, Russian warships receive it without guided missiles. It is installed on project 22350 frigates (2), the Dagestan frigate of project 11661 (1), and R-60 missile boats of project 1241 (1).

AK-630 and AK-630M are most widely used as close-range air defense by Russian warships. They are installed on the Admiral Kuznetsov (six units), project 11356 cruisers (2), the Tatarstan frigate of project 11661 (2), project 20380 (2) and 20385 (2) corvettes, small missile ships of project 12341 (1) and 1239 (2), air-cushioned landing ships of project 12322 (2), big amphibious assault ships of project 775 (2) and 11711 (2), small artillery ships of project 21630 (2), small antisubmarine ships of projects 1124 and 1124M (1). Some of the warships are undergoing an overhaul and modernization.

AK-630M-2 Duet is installed on big amphibious assault ships of project 11711 (1) and project 21631 corvettes (1). The latter are also armed with Gibka 3M47 with Igla-S antiaircraft guided missiles.

Thus, AK-630 designed in 1960s are the main weapon against anti-ship and other air weapons of the Russian warships regardless of the class and displacement. Only some big-displacement ships (except for the Steregushchy) are armed with modern air defense weapons with a much bigger range than automatic 30mm guns.

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