25 March 2023, Saturday, 20:41
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Pantsir That Resides On The Roof

Pantsir That Resides On The Roof
Uladzimir Khalip

At the end of the eighties, a cameraman at Belarusfilm observed something similar.

A multi-ton dotterel crawled along the wall and landed on the flat roof of the ministry. The building shuddered, staggered, but withstood. Such institutions have always been reliably built at all times. If there is anything official in the Soviet Union, and, moreover, defense industry, then it is for the ages. Because everything you look at is dedicated to the working people - both the lavish ministry of universal defense and the simple military registration and enlistment office. No enemy can approach. The armor is strong and our tanks are fast. In general, the object is special, strategic one. If it also has construction equipment, it is better to pass by and do not ask anything.

The crane operators, dogmans, drivers and specialists from Lubyanka were all huddled together in a nervous crowd. They held their breath, stared upwards, and the farther the absurd iron was advancing, the fewer doubts remained that the idea was foolish and at the whole heap of bolts, wheels, and nuts would inevitably come crashing down. The law of universal gravitation is harsh. All jokes with it always ends badly. And then there were the reporters. Someone spread a rumor that the authorities were doing something outrageous in the center of Moscow. If it is not true, then why there are rockets with wheels on the roofs on the Frunzenskaya Naberezhnaya?

And the dark green mega vehicle rolled back and forth across the flat roof, choosing its position, and made itself comfortable right above the bas-relief with the coat of arms. It was such an addition to his official portrait of the resentful empire. Right between the heads of the responsible official bird, monitoring the international situation in the West and the East at the same time. And everyone who was responsible for the installation of the anti-aircraft system Pantsir-S1 had a sigh of relief: we did it, damn it!

However, no one was going to answer the questions of reporters who rushed to the place. Everything remained at the level of rumors. Allegedly the Moscow region declared air defense exercises. Therefore, those who were desperately needed to learn what this was all about rushed to contact the Kremlin. But nobody talked to them there either. Press Secretary Peskov who even ansered the call, advised all those curious to contact the Ministry of Defense. This is their business. And he's not aware of it.

Suddenly it turned out that the attempt of a sudden desire to contact top officials is not an exceptional case. And it seemed as if some unknown people were already installing the same Pantsir on the roof of an office high-rise in Teterinsky Alley. They rushed over there. It brought results. There was a security guard there, surprisingly talkative. He explained that all sorts of equipment was on purpose. This is a construction crew holds its exercises. Soldiers are learning how to block the roof. Nothing interesting. There are no secrets here. One could even go in, but why?

A phone call and pictures of anti-aircraft systems on the roofs sent to the State Duma did not make the situation any clearer. A deputy from the Defense Committee outraged: this is a fake! Enemy schemes. There was nothing of this kind anywhere. But new addresses of similar incidents were already sent to social networks. There are S-400 systems at the experimental sites of the Timiryazev Academy. A division of the same type settled in Sokolniki. However, the main focus is on the center. As if the famous institution on Petrovka also rushed to close the sky over itself. And if this campaign takes exactly this turn, then these exercises are serious and will last long. One can expect that soon the famous quadriga will be replaced with the same Pantsir-C1 on the Bolshoi Theater as well.

Moscow journalists quickly realized that there was no point in knocks on the offices of the capital's bosses. Everyone will evade and lie. So they found a retired officer who couldn't give a damn about Kremlin secrets. He is a retired military officer. A colonel. He commanded all the anti-aircraft guns in this arrogant metropolis. One tried to be careful during the conversation: was it worth putting air defense systems on the roofs of skyscrapers? The colonel didn't even listen. Of course! Back in 2008, his staff submitted a similar project to the Ministry of Defense. They rejected it. You see, they could not find the money.

When asked if it would be better to deploy all these systems outside the city limits, the anti-aircraft gunner answered just as emphatically. There's nothing to think about. The perimeter is closed. But the urban areas, especially the center, are a problem. Drones are the main danger here. They're so insidious, the can deliver a charge anywhere. Targeted one. From where? From the balcony next door. A saboteur with a drone arrives, and everything goes to waste. That is why the most reliable counteraction to such an insidious weapon is a Pantsir on a roof.

There was an alarming murmur on social networks. Bloggers and other experts doubted. Is this monster on the roof so reliable? Will it start shooting at the clouds? It is possible to confuse the system. A balloon filled with helium and aluminum tape will be enough. The homing system will seize the decoy as a target and destroy it. Meanwhile, the drone will pass without any problems. Let anyone imagine the volley of this Pantsir in urban neighborhoods. Even an icicle, fallen from a height, left grave consequences. There were furious debates about the unexpected inhabitant of the departmental roofs.

But then the information came from the province. An ordinary resident of Valdai made a curious picture. Identical Christmas trees lined up. Perhaps they had just been taken from the forest and stuck in the ground at the new location. There was the same system that was noticed near the village of Zarechye near Moscow. There are no defense enterprises or military units nearby. Except for the well-known Novo-Ogarevo residence. However, it is ten kilometers away. So the connection between these objects does not seem to be obvious. But it is quiet place near the village of Yascheritsyno on the Valdai, where the formidable air defense system is deployed under little fir-trees and put on combat duty. The lake with the shy name of Uzhin is six kilometers away. A cozy and tempting hermit's lodging - favorite residence of the chief - is on its shore. Times are bad. War. There are things flying in the skies. So what else to rely on, if not on an anti-aircraft system?

At the end of the eighties, a cameraman from Belarusfilm was in Romania for a couple of days on business or some other reason. Upon his return, the pilgrim was attacked in the studio cafeteria. The first and only question was simple and clear: what impressed him most in this mysterious country? He leaned over his plate of soup and said just a few words: "Airport. Anti-aircraft guns on the roof."

The total collapse of the Ceausescu regime happened in less than a year.

Uladzimir Khalip, especially for Charter97.org