Moscow’s most modern defense systems appeared untouchable. But current drone attacks from Ukraine raise questions. Why can’t a city equipped with the best air defense systems withstand simple drone attacks?
According to 19Fortyfive, it was already known in January of this year that Moscow was vulnerable to drone attacks. Ukraine had developed drones like the Chinese Mugin-5 and equipped them for kamikaze missions in Crimea.
Although the Russian capital has continually expanded its air defenses since the Russian Civil War in 1918, there is currently hectic activity in this area. New anti-aircraft systems have been installed, as photos on social media show.
Crucial weak point in Moscow’s air defense discovered
Moscow’s impressive air defense system, housed in the suburb of Filatov Lug, is an example of Russia’s defense efforts. With its underground missile silos, this system is specialized to block incoming missiles. These missiles, known as Gazelle missiles, can reach speeds of Mach 16 within three seconds. And despite the sophisticated technology behind these defense systems, they have one major disadvantage: they are not designed to defend against small drone attacks.
19Fortyfive points out that Moscow’s integrated air defense system is equipped to combat major threats, but is virtually blind against smaller drones. In fact, drones were not identified as a significant threat in any of Russia’s security strategy documents until 2019.
Pantsir Systems: Moscow’s Response to Drones
To respond to the new threat, Moscow installed SA-22 Pantsir anti-aircraft systems on key buildings in the city. These systems, mounted on KAMAZ trucks, are equipped with radars, anti-aircraft guns and missiles. But despite their impressive specifications, they have proven unreliable against drones in conflicts such as Syria and Libya.
In fact, there were repeated drone attacks on Moscow between May and September. Despite official statements that all drones were successfully intercepted, there are significant doubts about these claims. One example highlighted by 19Fortyfive is the fact that a high-rise building housing three ministries was attacked by drones twice in three days.