🔴 INTRODUCTION :
The Pantsir-S1 air defense missile/gun system is a point defence system typically employed to protect army units, tank formations, administrative and industrial installations and other such high-value zones against enemy aircrafts, helicopters, cruise missiles and precision guided weapons. It is the most suitable system for protecting a moving convoy from enemy air raids.
🔵 WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT PANTSIR-SM ?
Recent reports suggest that Pantsir is being upgraded to take on hypersonic missiles – a capability which India never had. Its engagement range is being increased to 60km from the present range of 20km. The Pantsir-SM variant incorporating a multi-functional targeting station, and increased target detection range from 40 to 75 km and engagement range from 20 to 40 km, is already being tested in Syria. The system also uses a new high-speed extended range missile, and existing Pantsir systems can be upgraded to SM standard. It is fitted to a new 8×8 Kamaz truck chassis with an armored cab. Development should be completed in 2019.
Modernised Pantsir S/SE – an export version is operational with armed forces of Russia and Algeria. Pantsir not only acts as a force multiplier, it is also considered as an ultimate weapon to take on UAVs.
Armed further with dual 30 mm auto-cannons with an effective rage of up to 4 kilometers (2.4 miles), besides extended range missiles, Pantsir-SM is a two-edged sword that has very high rate of efficiency.
Pantsir-SM is equipped with highly effective single multi- mode and multi-spectral radar -optical control system. It can operate in dm, mm, and IR wavebands. It is even effective under intense jamming environment. It can reportedly take down precision-guided ammunition, supersonic and even hypersonic missiles easily.
🔴 WHY SHOULD INDIA PROCURE IT ?
Indian army is direly in need of a reliable mobile air defense system which can be deployed at short notice. The Akash system is fully mobile and capable of protecting a moving convoy of vehicles. The launch platform has been integrated with both wheeled and tracked vehicles. While the Akash system is turning out to be quite a dependable system, it will take some years before it is fully ready to engage hypersonic targets.
Our Quick Reaction Range Surface to Air Missile (QRSAM) with its 360° coverage, light weight, high mobility, and shorter second reaction time will eventually turn out to be a even bigger success than Akash. But then it is also under development. Moreover with the kind of hostility we are facing at the borders it would be advisable to have multiple systems. Even major Powers like America and Russia have never been known to depend upon one or two systems.
Secondly, if we can better negotiate some technology transfer for Pantsir-SM, it can be utilised to further augment our own systems.
Thirdly, India is staring at huge shortfall in the number of fighter jets to fight a two-front war. We are unlikely to achieve the requisite strength of 42 fighter squadrons before 2032. Even beyond that China will enjoy numerical superiority over us. So it becomes imperative that as an alternative we strengthen our air-defences.
Fourthly, India lacks the infrastructure in the North-East that Chinese are building on the other side of the border. This government has shown urgency in speeding up infrastructure projects and connectively is likely to be completed by 2022. But given the mismatch in economy, Chinese are still expected to stay one-step ahead. Systems like Pantsir-SA can help Indian Army to bridge this gap and protect our air-space effectively.
India is about to close the deal with Russia for five Regiments of S-400. Together with Pantsir-SM, it will give Indian Armed Forces tremendous confidence and capability to provide fool-proof security to the country. In fact, Chinese will think twice to take-off in their stealth jets or launch their missiles.
Note: Image of Pantsir S-1 sourced from Pinterest