Russia to Upgrade its Pantsir-s1 for Arctic Ops

A Pantsir-s1 weapon system on a tracked chassis
A Pantsir-s1 weapon system on a tracked chassis

Russia’s KBP Instrument Design Bureau is working on an Arctic-capable Pantsir-s1 weapon system.

The Pantsir-s1 weapon system is a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun and missile system capable of quickly deploying where needed. Mounted on a wheeled chassis, its maneuverability in heavy snow is severely restricted.

The United Arab Emirates has a tracked version of the Pantsir-s1. Mounted on a GMZ-352M1E chassis, it has the ability to efficiently operate in the desert.

A tracked version would allow the Russian Armed Forces to quickly deploy the Pantsir to protect Russia’s northern borders. It would also allow them to follow mechanized troops and offer them a mobile anti-aircraft protection.

According to Sputnik International, Vladimir Popov, director general of the KBP subsidiary JSC Scheglovsky Val, said KBP is working on the weapon system’s reliability in Arctic conditions.

“Icing-up is the main problem,” he said. “We are improving both the chassis’ reliability and the frost-resistance of different oils and power fluids.”

Already in operation around the temporary air base on Kotelny island since 2014, the Pantsir has an important role in the protection of Russian assets in the Arctic.

The 12 57E6-E Hypersonic missiles of the Pantsir-s1 can hit targets at more than 20 kilometres and has frag HE and multiple continuous rod warheads. The missiles can detonate on contact or in proximity of a target.

Pantsir-S1 infographic. Courtesy of Ria Novosti
Pantsir-S1 infographic. Courtesy of Ria Novosti

The fact that Russia is upgrading its anti-aircraft weapon systems to withstand Arctic conditions is a proof of its commitment to the security of the region. Protection of airfields and intercontinental ballistic missiles positions (mobile or static) will most likely be tasks for the Pantsir.

In December 2014, Russia established an Arctic military command but has no plan to militarize the Arctic. Many Cold War-era military installations are being reopened and new bases will be built. Necessary measures will be taken to ensure the security and the stability of the region, however.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made the Arctic one of its main priority. The vast amount of available oil, rare metals and resources will strongly help the Russian economy. The Northern Sea Route (NSR) is also a vital part of Russia’s economy and a military presence in the Arctic will keep the NSR safe.

The Pantsir-s1 is one of Russia’s best anti-aircraft weapon system. It is slowly replacing the ageing Tunguska-m1 tracked self-propelled anti-aircraft weapon system and has been in service since 2012.

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Copyright 2015 The Sentinel

Jonathan Wade, CD

Jonathan Wade is the director of the ‘The Sentinel Analytical Group’ and a decorated veteran of the Canadian Forces. Specialized in tactical, strategic, intelligence and geopolitics analysis, Jonathan has a fondness for technical details. His military experience brought him valuable insight on the realities of conflicts and war. A combat veteran of Afghanistan, Jonathan brings in in-theatre experience. Jonathan writes about Russia, Canada and Arctic.