Turkish-backed Libyan government forces have scored a significant intelligence coup, capturing an advanced Pantsir-S1 air-defense system at al-Watiyah airbase. In a twist, the Russian-made system was not supplied by Russia, but is believed to have come from the United Arab Emirates.
The events leading up to the capture were dramatic. On Saturday, a drone targeted one of the missile vehicles shortly after it arrived at al-Watiyah. The system was shown being driven into a hardened aircraft shelter, which was then struck by a missile.
The airbase is controlled by the rival LNA, or Libyan National Army, commanded by Khalifa Haftar. The attack, believed to have been carried out by a Turkish-made TB2 drone, likely neutralized the system before it could be put into operation. It was damaged but not destroyed. It is likely that the missile strike hit a ‘technical’ armed jeep next to the Pantsir.
This, it turned out, was a blessing for the Government forces because just two days later on Monday they captured it. Based on numerous images on social media, it appears smoke-damaged but largely intact. It is clear that the vehicle’s missile tubes were loaded at the time of the air strike. It has since been paraded as a war trophy, and may be moved to a protected location to be analysed.
The Pantsir-S1, known to NATO as the SA-22 Greyhound, combines both guns and missiles. It is reputed to be able to intercept cruise missiles and has been extensively used by Assad’s forces in Syria. Despite its potency, or possibly because of it, it has been a target of choice for both Turkish and Israeli air strikes in Syria.
What is less well known is that it has been present in the Libyan Civil War as well. According to Oded Berkowitz, an intelligence analyst who closely monitors the situation, it appears that… READ MORE HERE