Raising red flags about flying the Pantsir S1 to a U.S. base, U.S. publication, The Drive commented, “There would also be clear intelligence benefits from obtaining a largely intact example of this system, which Russia operates and has also exported widely.”
The U.S. military has not commented on The Times report leading to speculation that the Pantsir S1 may have been taken away as part of testing its own IM-SHORAD. In the past, U.S. military has used Russian equipment procured from former Soviet Bloc nations for testing and comparison with its own military hardware.
In 1997, Washington acquired twenty-one MiG- 29 jets from Moldova which were shipped to the U.S. and exhaustively evaluated there. Later, some of these MiG-29s, flown by German air force pilots were pitched against F 16, F/A 18, and F 15 of the USAF in exercise Red Flag, an annual exercise held with foreign partners.
In Russia, Vice-President of the Academy of Military Sciences (AVN) Sergey Modestov told Interfax news agency on Friday, “The hardware itself is a good find for the United States. The knowledge gained can be used against those who have a similar armor (Pantsir S1).”
Currently under testing, the IM-SHORAD is considered a direct competitor to the Pantsir-S1. Like the Russian system, it provides low altitude defence against drones, aircraft and helicopters. It will be the first system of its kind to be fielded by the U.S. Army.
Soldiers from the 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment out of Ansbach, Germany traveled to the White Sands Missile Range to conduct training and operational testing of the Army’s IM-SHORAD system, a U.S. Army announcement had said in November 2020.
The IM-SHORAD is one of the Army’s solutions to replace the aging Avenger short range air defense system. While the Avenger worked well in its day as a Cold War platform for the protection of Army units from close in air threats, the system is showing its age, being less survivable than other modern air defense systems, and requiring a long set up time to get operational, the announcement said.