The Pentagon is on the hunt for modern Russian weapons. According to media reports, the US Army captured the Russian Pantsir-S1E air defense system from Libya. According to media reports, the US military did not want to let the complex fall into the hands of any of the local groups. However, experts believe that the complex was taken by the Pentagon to study the combat qualities of Russian weapons and conduct exercises.
The British newspaper The Times reported on a secret mission, which, according to the newspaper, took place in June 2020. According to the newspaper, the US Air Force C-17A Globemaster III transport plane has landed at Zuwara International Airport, located west of the Libyan capital Tripoli. At the airbase, the Pantsir-S1E anti-aircraft missile-gun system was loaded into the plane, which was then delivered to the US Air Force Ramstein airfield in Germany.
Pantsir-S1E is an export version of the Pantsir-S1 air defense system, which is in service with the Russian army. Unlike the original, the export version is designed on the basis of the German MAN SX 8×8 truck. In this version, the complex is used by the air defense forces of the United Arab Emirates.
In 2019, the Pantsir-S1E complexes appeared in service with the Libyan National Army under the command of the rebellious Marshal Khalifa Haftar. Presumably, weapons are supplied to Haftar by the UAE authorities. Over the next two years, the Shells covered Haftar’s troops in the battles in the west of the country. It is believed that with their help at least 20 Turkish attack drones were shot down. However, in the spring of 2020, Haftar’s troops were defeated in the battles for the Libyan capital Tripoli.
During the retreat, several Pantsir-S1E complexes were destroyed and seized by the forces of the UN-recognized Libyan government. Presumably, it was one of these complexes that fell into the hands of the American military, who closely cooperate with the Libyan authorities.
According to The Times, the operation was allegedly aimed at preventing the complex from falling into the hands of terrorist groups operating in Libya. Their possession of such modern weapons could threaten the safety of air traffic. However, experts believe that American military intelligence intends to study the combat qualities of the complex. However, as military expert Alexei Valyuzhenich noted in an interview with MK, the Pentagon is unlikely to be able to obtain valuable information from its trophy. And the main reason is the difference between the export version of “Pantsir” and the original.
“When weapons are exported, we always take into account the possibility that they will fall into the hands of a potential enemy. This is done both in our country and in the United States. Nobody sends the very best for sale. As an example – the S-400 anti-aircraft systems delivered to Turkey, which in their functionality are inferior to those that cover our airspace. Similarly, with the export version of “Pantsir”. It doesn’t use such a wide range of ammunition and, I think, has less modern electronics and basic components. So the only thing that the Americans will be able to learn is how the “Emirati” version works, “the expert noted.
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