Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin announced on Thursday that Serbian Armed Forces will buy new Russian-made Pantsir-S1M Air Defense Systems. Serbia operates one battery (six units) of the Pantsir-S1, delivered in February–March 2020. Two more batteries on order. The Serbian interior minister conveyed “his personal regards and big gratitude from Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic” to the Russian defense minister “for all these years of the joint struggle and the development of relations.” Serbia was severely bombed in March-June 1999 by the NATO combat aircraft and seems to look forward to extend its air defense capability to be independent from the West.
The Pantsir (Carapace) missile system is a family of self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery systems. Starting with the Pantsir-S1 (NATO reporting name SA-22 Greyhound) as the first version, it is produced by KBP Instrument Design Bureau of Tula, Russia. The Pantsir-S1 was designed to provide point air defence of military, industrial and administrative installations against aircraft, helicopters, precision munitions, cruise missiles and UAVs; and to provide additional protection to air defence units against enemy air attacks employing precision munitions, especially at low to extremely low altitudes.
Pantsir-S1 carries up to twelve 57E6 (export designation) 57E6-E (export enhanced designation) two-stage solid fuel radio/optical command-guided surface-to-air missiles in sealed ready-to-launch container tubes. Missiles are arranged into two six-tube groups on the turret. The missile has a bicalibre body, consisting of two stages in a tandem configuration. Two dual 2A38M 30 mm (1.2 in) autocannon guns are fitted with 700 rounds of a variety of ammunition—HE (High Explosive) fragmentation, fragmentation tracer, and armour-piercing with tracer. Ammunition type can be selected by the crew depending on the nature of the target. Maximum rate of fire is 2,500 rounds per minute per gun. Range is up to 4 km (2.5 mi).
New upgraded variant of the Pantsir-S1 first unveiled in February 2019 as some of the planned models. Experience of the system deployment in Syria was applied during development of the new modification. Pantsir-S1M has an upgraded L-band search radar with ability to track up to 40 targets at once and new multifunctional EHF fire-control radar that can engage four targets simultaneously, both fitted with phased antenna arrays. The system also uses new 57E6M-E surface-to-air missile with increased ceiling from 15 to 18 km (9.3 to 11.2 mi), engagement range from 20 to 30 km and speed 1,300 to 1,700 m/s as well as with heavier 25 kg fragmentation warhead, compared to the 20 kg warhead of the standard 57E6-E missile. The first Pantsir-S1M export contract was signed in August 2021