Russia’s Ulyanovsk Discloses Radar Deficiencies of Pantsir Air Defense System

Russia’s Ulyanovsk Mechanical Plant has disclosed the radar specification of the Pantsir missile system. According to Russia’s Interfax news agency, Ulyanovsk Mechanical Plant has a data sheet that identifies the interception capability of air-breathing targets by the radar.

The Pantsir’s fire control radar is designated as 1RS2-1E for export customers. VNIIRT has been credited with the development of the 1RS2-1E’s design with a detection range of 24 km against a 2.0 m2 RCS airborne target.

To date, the Russian Pantsir-S anti-aircraft missile and cannon systems achieved nothing but a bad reputation combating drones, cruise missiles and loitering ammunition in Syria, Nagorno-Karabakh and Libya. The product specification also explained why Pantsir was incapable of intercepting Israeli Delilah Cruise Missiles and Scalp cruise missiles fired from French warship and Rafale-M aircraft.  Pantsir’s performance in Syria raised even more questions about its capability to intercept low-flying drones.

1RS2-1E

The 1RS2-1E was the first engagement radar used on the Pantsir S demonstrators. The characteristic conical radome shape conceals a parabolic reflector antenna with a quad waveguide feed for dual plane monpulse angle tracking, with Ku-band channels.

Uni-directional radar developed by VNIIRT.

According to technical documentation, the Russian Pantsir-S air defense missile system has the lowest efficiency when intercepting enemy cruise missiles at low altitudes and long-range.

The Pantsir’s radar can detect a cruise missile with a range of ten kilometers and flight altitude of an enemy cruise missile of ten kilometers, the effectiveness of hitting targets with interceptor missiles varies within 65%, while at distances up to seven kilometers and altitudes up to seven kilometers.

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1RS2-1E

Pantsir S1 1RS2-1 / 1RS2-1E mono-pulse engagement radar with new casing to deceive foreign buyers.

The 1RS2-E Shlem is the engagement radar used on the Pantsir S demonstrators, it continues to be offered with Pantsir and Tunguska variants on tracked chassis where its compact size and single target limitation present operational problems.

The technical characteristics of the Russian Pantsir indicate that the Pantsir-S is most effective in intercepting cruise missiles if it fly at an altitude of up to 5 kilometers at distances of up to 5 kilometers, but most modern cruise missile bypasses traditional radar following low altitude flight path when the missiles are in the terminal phase.  

 Hence the effectiveness of Pantsir decreases to 45% dealing with Delilah cruise missiles.

Pantsir’s command center has Soviet-era clunky ping-pong buttons.

The Pantsir-S is the most effective type of weaponry for combating fighter-sized aircraft at high altitude and that is why the Pantsir failed to repeal NATO strikes in Syria dealing with Tomahawks and Scalp cruise missile.

Russian air defense radar is good at detecting objects at high altitudes, but weapons quality detection, discrimination and tracking through a fire control radar is the weakness of Russian radar. It makes the Russian air defense missile system extremely useless, for example, Russian Pantsir and S-300 missiles underperformed in Syria due to Soviet-era fire control radar.

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