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Analysis 2/5: Review Pantsir-M Russian-made medium-range naval air defense missile system

Russian naval defense industry continues to develop new air defense systems to protect warships against aerial threats including missiles, aircraft, helicopters and unmanned aerial systems and vehicles. With the Pantsir-M, the Russian navy has now the capabilities to destroy targets at short and medium ranges.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Pantsir-M naval air defense missile/gun system at IMDS naval show in Russia. (Picture source Navy Recognition)

The American-made 20mm Phalanx designed in the 1960s remains the main close-range air defense weapon of US and allied warships. However, it should not becalm Russian specialists, as the quantity superiority of US and NATO fleets and naval aviation compels Russia to reinforce close-range air defense of single warships and formations. Western countries have been intensively designing stealth anti-ship missiles of late (AGM-158 °C LRASM, MST, NSM). In the coming decade, the fleets of potential adversaries are likely to be armed with hypersonic anti-ship missiles.

Pantsir-M is one of the responses. Open sources said it has been designed by the Shipunov Instrument-Building Design Bureau since the late 2000s — early 2010s.

Pantsir-M was for the first time displayed at the International Naval Salon (MVMS) in July 2015. The Pantsir-ME export option was also created.

It is a development of the ground Pantsir-S which confirmed effectiveness in Syria. It was defending Humaymim airbase and Tartus naval base and intercepted drones and projectiles of multiple launch rocket systems. The Pantsir-S1 export option of the Syrian army displayed the same high characteristics. They intercepted 23 out of 25 targets in April 2018. In 2018-2019, Israeli aircraft succeeded to destroy two Pantsir which were either recharged or in a non-combat state. Several launchers were destroyed by Turkish drones during combat in Syrian Idleb and in Libya in 2020. In most cases, the destroyed vehicles were in a non-combat state.

It was reported at MAKS airshow in August 2015 that the Defense Ministry signed a contract for three Pantsir-M for project 22800 corvettes. The Odintsovo third warship of the series was the first to receive it.

Preliminary trials of the launcher were completed in September 2016. Sea trials of Pantsir-M had to begin on the Shuya missile boat of project 1241 of the Black Sea fleet in 2018. The Izvestia daily said in the summer of 2018 that the Stavropol corvette of project 21631 would be armed with Pantsir-M. Defense Ministry and industry representatives said the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier and the Admiral Nakhimov cruiser would also get the new launchers.

Pantsir-M was presented at the International Naval Salon in St. Petersburg,Russia, in June 2017. The Pantsir-ME export option was for the first time demonstrated at IDEX 2019 defense exhibition in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

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