A missile fired by a Turkish Drone destroyed a Russian-made Pantsir-S1 Air Defense System (ADS) of the Syrian Army deployed in Idlib province on Friday.
Information leaked to the Turkish media said that the ADS’s radar was active moments before the impact, indicating that the system failed to detect the incoming missile.
The Syrian Air Defense Force reportedly has over 30 Pantsir units in its inventory. Russia has also fortified its Syrian Hmeimim airbase with the Pantsir, to ward off airborne attacks. It was deployed after a flurry of drones struck the airbase in 2018.
Although not mentioned in the media reports, the drone could be either the half-ton Bayraktar TB2 or the 1.5-ton Anka, which have been used extensively by the Turkish military in recent years. Turkey's Roketsan-developed guided weapons include laser-guided MAM- Smart Micro Munition light bombs with a range of 8 km. These munitions can be equipped with armor-piercing cumulative, high-explosive fragmentation and thermobaric warheads.
Bayraktar was used by Ankara in its offensive against Kurdish forces in Syria in mid-October. It destroyed a Kurdish truck while ammunition and explosives were reportedly being loaded onto the vehicle.
Earlier this week, a Bayraktar drone of Turkey-supported National Agreement Government forces was shot down by Libyan National Army’s Pantsir ADS.
There have been several claims of the Pantsir being destroyed in the past, the recent one being last month. A mobile phone left behind by a Syrian Pantsir operator led Israeli forces to the ADS, a top official from KBP Instrument Design Bureau, the Russian company that manufactures the system, reportedly admitted.
In May 2018, another Pantsir ADS deployed in Syria is said to have taken a “direct hit” from a missile launched by IDF fighter jets. Aytech Bizhev, former deputy commander-in-chief of the Russian Air Force offered two possible explanations, wrote RT. “The Pantsir might’ve either used up its ammunition reserve, or it was simply turned off. It wasn’t battle ready,” he said.
Russian officials have raised questions about the training of Syrian soldiers tasked with operating the Russian systems. These incidences of Pantsir destruction have been blamed on “costly mistakes” made by the Syrian Army.