Algeria and Libya are set to purchase Russian Pantsir-S1 short-range air defence systems, according to deputy head of the Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation Vyacheslav Dzirkaln.

Dzirkaln said the north African countries were interested in purchasing the new combat-proven air defence system, according to Rianovosti.

Early reports said that Algeria was planning to purchase a total of 40 Pantsir-S1 units under a $500m contract.

Pantsir-S1 is a short-to-medium range combined surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery system specifically designed to protect point and area targets.

The system has two dual 30mm automatic cannons that can engage targets at a range of up to 4km and are capable of carrying up to 12 two-stage solid-fuel surface-to-air missiles in sealed ready-to-launch containers.

Russia also recently confirmed that it would deliver 50 Pantsir-S1 air defence systems to the UAE during 2010.