A Russian-made truck-mounted Pantsir S1 air defence missile system formerly belonging to Libya’s strongman Khalifa Haftar’s forces have been flown to the United States.
The Pantsir S1 air defence missile system was initially captured in al-Watiya air Base in May last year by forces of the Government of National Accord.
Last June, a United States Air Force C-17A Globemaster III strategic transport aircraft flew to Zuwara airport, west of Tripoli, took the Pantsir S1 battery and transported it back to the Ramstein base in southwestern Germany.
It was flown intact to a US air base in Germany in a covert mission, says British Newspaper The Times, to avoid it falling into the wrong hands like terrorists or arms smugglers.
Since the ouster and killing of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, several weapons have smuggled out of Libya in the chaos.
The Pantsir-S1, known to NATO as the SA-22 Greyhound, combines both guns and missiles. It combines two 2A38M 30 mm automatic anti-aircraft guns developed from the two-barrelled 30 mm GSh-30 gun, with twelve 57E6 surface-to-air missiles.
Being a low-level air defense system, it can defend battalion-size troops formations from enemy cruise missiles, drones and close air supports aircraft and helicopter attacks.
The United Arab Emirates reportedly supplied several Pantsir-S1 systems to the LNA, the first was publicly displayed in June 2018, they are mounted on the German built Man-SX 8×8 trucks which are unique to the UAE stock.
The Pantsir-S1 systems alongside several Chinese-made portable counter-drone system may have accounted for many of the Turkish built Bayraktar TB2 drones which have been downed in the country.
United Arab Emirates (UAE) personnel were reportedly operating the Russian-made Pantsir S1 air defence system alongside Libyan fighters according to a leaked video which was published online in June last year.
The Pantsir S1 system sent to the United States would likely be extensively studied, their weaknesses exploited, and military personnel trained against them.
Regarding these concerns, a Russian official said Moscow was aware the U.S. had removed the Pantsir system but suggested its capture would be of limited intelligence value, since the US would have the opportunity to study the same system in the UAE,” The Times added. “Export versions, such as the one captured in Libya, are supposedly stripped of a carefully guarded identification friend or foe database with the transponder codes for all Russian air force jets