In January 2018, Russia announced that it was fielding a new missile capable of taking out drones. The new missile system which equips Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapons system, is designed to deal with a range of small targets, with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) seen as the main priority. It is expected that it will become the main defense against high-precision aerial weaponry in future.
This missile named Gvodz (Russian for ‘Nail’) is a relatively small armament designed to take out drones. It is appreciated that each Pantsir mount carries 4 gvozds in one canister, giving a total of 48 missiles with each system.
Showcased for the first time in the International Military-Technical Forum “Army-2017”, it has seen a rapid induction in to service, driven by the Russian experience in Syria.
The Pantsir, known to NATO as the SA-22 Greyhound, is armed with two 2A38M 30 mm autocannons that can fire a maximum of 5,000 rounds per minute, and twelve AA missiles in twelve launch canisters. The system’s weapons have an effective range of 10 to 20 kilometers. Pantsir-S1 entered service in 2012 with the primary role of point-defense, i.e. provide air defence from low-flying aerial targets within a specified area.
While the drone swarm attack on the Russian Hmeimim airbase in Syria may have speeded up the induction of Gvodz system, it needs to be remembered that the system was first demonstrated in August 2017 –
Suggesting that Russia would have been working on a anti-drone missile system for quite some time. It also reveals that the Russian Air Defences are far more capable and advanced than the American systems as the US does not have comparable missile system to date. With an increasing use of drones, including by non-state actors, Russia seems to be the only country with an advanced defence system operationalized which is not only effective but is also economical. The United States and its allies, on the other hand, are yet to find a way to counter small drones that does not require expensive missiles or large amounts of ammunition.
Sergey Sukhankin, The S-400–Pantsir ‘Tandem’: The New-Old Feature of Russian A2/AD Capabilities, Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 15 Issue: 14, https://jamestown.org/program/s-400-pantsir-tandem-new-old-feature-russian-a2-ad-capabilities/
Ben Brimeflow, Russia’s newest anti-air missile shows how its air defenses outpace America’s
Feb 6, 2018 https://www.businessinsider.in/Russias-newest-anti-air-missile-shows-how-its-air-defenses-outpace-Americas/articleshow/62796644.cms