On December 27, a Pantsir-S1 short range air-defense system deployed at Russia’s Khmeimim airbase successfully intercepted at least two Grad rockets, according to Syrian pro-government sources.
Syrian opposition activists reported that the rockets were fired from an area around the twoon of Bidama in the northwestern Idlib countryside. The Grad rockets were likely fired by one of the US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups operating in Idlib governorate. These groups were supplied with Bulgarian-made rockets by the US and Saudi Arabia previously.
In response to the rocket attack, Russian warplanes conducted dozens of airstrikes on several positions of the FSA and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in the area of Bidama and near the villages of Najiyeh, al-Saghr, al-Za’iniyah, according to Syrian oppositions activists.
The Russian Pantsir-S1 system had shown itself as a battle-proven weapon system to counter small and fast projectiles, as it was able to intercept Grad rockets multiple times in Syria, including three rockets that targeted Khmeimim airbase on March 29.
Unlike similar western systems that relay on expensive missiles equipped with inboard active seekers, the Russian system carries low cost radio-command-guided 57E6 surface-to-air missiles with an operational range of 20 km and flight altitude of 10 km.