Pantsir-S1 missiles fired at Russia’s air defense competition (VIDEO)

A Pantsir-S1 combined short to medium range surface-to-air missile weapon system (RIA Novosti / Mihail Mokrushin)
Missiles from Russia’s international bestselling Pantsir-S1 system were fired during a large-scale contest that saw the country’s various air defense forces competing against each other.

The professional competition for antiaircraft gunners – entitled ‘Keys to the Sky 2015’ – has been under way during the week in the Russian Republic of Buryatia, close to the Mongolian border.

The large-scale drill pitted teams from the country’s various military districts and forces against each other as they tried to determine who is more skillful in taking out enemy aircraft and missiles.

“During the competition, crews conducted simulated launches against an opposing force's planes, whose role was taken on by crews of Su-30SM fighter jets and Su-25 attack aircraft of the Eastern Military District. They also conducted live missile launches against targets, which imitated the flight and characteristics of modern and prospective means of aerial attack of an opposing force,” a Defense Ministry spokesman was cited as saying by Sputnik news agency.

The Aerospace Defense Forces came out as winners in the competition, with Russia’s Eastern Military District taking second place and the Southern Military District completing the podium.

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Pantsir-S1 wasn’t the only air defense system used during the exercise as S-400, S-300PS and S-300PM1 systems were also applied.

Russia currently sells Pantsir-S1 to eight countries, including Brazil, Syria, United Arab Emirates and most recently, Iraq, which plans to use the system in the fight against the Islamic State jihadist group.

International orders for the export version of the system have been booked up to 2019, Russian Deputy PM Dmitry Rogozin said earlier. According to media reports, the export price of a single Pantsir-S1 unit varies between $13 million and $15.5 million.

The Pantsir-S1, or SA-22 Greyhound, according to NATO classification, was designed to provide point air defense of military and civil installations against aircraft, helicopters, precision munitions, cruise missiles and drones. It can also be used to provide additional protection to air defense units from enemy air attacks, especially on low ranges.

One of the system’s unique features is the ability to track and destroy targets, while being on the move. The modernized Pantsir-S2 air defense system is expected to enter service in the Russian military later this year.