We all miss things, right?
In Friday’s NVO, Viktor Myasnikov published an insightful article on Pantsir-S1. He hints that maybe the ten Pantsir-S1s ceremoniously delivered to the VVS aren’t actually for Russia’s VVS. More interestingly, he provides numbers on the quantity really needed to rearm the Russian Armed Forces by 2020—500 for the VVS and 500 for the Ground Troops’ VPVO.
“‘Pantsir’ is one of the most talked about combat vehicles of the last 20 years. Everything about it’s been heard, many have seen it at exhibitions, but it only began to come to the troops in recent days. In the long years of design work (which began in 1990), testing, and disrupted contracts, ‘Pantsir’ received the honorary epithet ‘longsuffering.’”
“Now they’re talking about it again in superlative terms. One could get the impression this is some panacea against all means of aerospace attack. Actually, this is a close-range—up to 20 km—air defense system. It exceeds hand-held ‘Igla’ and ‘Strela’ SAMs, but doesn’t approach the level of ‘Tor.’ And ‘Pantsir’s’ place in the order of battle has been designated perfectly concretely—it will replace ‘Tunguska,’ which in its time replaced ‘Shilka.’ True, it will really only replace ‘Tunguska’ when it gets on a tracked chassis. For now this is a wheeled rear area variant designated to cover important targets—airfields, bases, air defense positions . . .”
“Initially ‘Pantsir’ was planned for tracked transport in as much as it needed to take the place of ‘Tunguska’ in tank columns to cover them against helicopters and other low flying enemy aircraft. But the concept began to change due to underfinancing. And a cheaper variant ‘Pantsir’ put on wheels, became positional as the last line of air defense for rear area targets.”
“The uniqueness of ‘Pantsir’ in the arms market is guaranteed by the fact that U.S., NATO, and Israeli armed forces are not threatened by cruise missiles, planned munitions and UAVs of the potential enemy [many would differ with this assertion]. It [Russia? Arab states?] doesn’t have them in the necessary amount and won’t have them in the coming years.”
“In accordance with the State Program of Armaments to 2015 it’s planned to deliver 20 of such systems to the RF Armed Forces. 10 have already been received.”
“At the same time the Russian Air Forces’ demand is specified as a minimum of 100 systems of this type. Incidentally, other specialists believe it’s essential to buy 200-250 systems by 2015 and 400-500 by 2020. Besides that, the Ground Troops could buy 500-600 vehicles by 2020 for replacing ‘Tunguskas.’ They certainly could, of course, they could, but who will provide them?”
“Besides this, there’s no trusting official announcements that all overdue export contracts for the supply of ‘Pantsirs’ to the UAE and Syria have been fulfilled [actually it’s pretty clear supplies are just starting]. Therefore it’s strange that 10 vehicles suddenly turn out to be withdrawn from the export orders. Suspicions immediately arise that the buyer has refused them or not accepted them due to complaints about quality. Meanwhile, some anonymous sources from Tula defense industrial enterprises maintain that everything’s normal with the quality, but the vehicles are just taking a pre-sales run on normal asphalt road conditions. After the [9 May Victory Day] parade the ‘Pantsirs’ will be repainted desert camouflage and handed over to the foreign buyer. There’s no need to show them to anyone until the next parade.”
“There are suspicions that the ‘KamAZes’ for these ‘Pantsirs’ are not quite serial models. ‘Cause in their build-out they are too close to the one in which Vladimir Chagin wins ‘Dakar.’ Would it make sense to have imported turbocharged engines on them? Such capability of automotive equipment for covering stationary S-400 SAMs is a little unnecessary. But it’s exactly right for the Middle Eastern or North African desert.”
“But there is another side to this. It’s been announced that these 10 ‘Pantsirs’ will participate in joint exercises of Russia, Belorussia and Kazakhstan. And also before the handover to the troops at the ‘Shcheglovskiy val’ enterprise an archpriest blessed them. Such a ritual wouldn’t be arranged for a buyer from a Muslim state.”