“FrankenSAM”: US creates Patriot, Soviet SAM hybrid for Ukraine
The US has created the “FrankenSAM” system, which combines advanced Western-caliber surface-to-air missiles with converted Soviet-era launchers
The NYT reported the information.
Currently, there are two versions of these improvised air defense systems - one combines Soviet Buk launchers and American Sea Sparrow missiles, and the other combines Soviet-era radars and American Sidewinder missiles.
The outlet noted that these systems have been tested over the past few months at military bases in the United States and will be delivered to Ukraine this fall.
FrankenSAM systems are “contributing to filling critical gaps in Ukraine’s air defenses, and this is the most important challenge that Ukraine faces today," said Laura K. Cooper, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia Policy.
Since the beginning of the war, Ukraine has begun to mix offensive weapons - its outdated Soviet-era stockpiles and those it received from the West. The “FrankenSAM” project is trying to do the same for Ukraine's air defense.
On Thursday, October 26, the Biden administration announced another USD 150 million military aid package for Ukraine. It will include additional ammunition for three types of air defense systems, including Sidewinder missiles for one of the “FrankenSAMs.”
The newspaper says that the program was launched late last year when Ukrainian officials asked the allies to help them find missiles for some 60 Buk launchers and Soviet-era radars. Knowing that it would be difficult for the West to obtain Russian-made ammunition for the Buk systems, Ukraine instead offered to convert the launchers to use NATO anti-aircraft missiles.
Ukrainian MP Oleksandra Ustinova said that Ukraine offered to re-equip the weapons on its own, but American engineers insisted on doing the work. According to Ustinova, the first few launchers and Buk missiles arrived in Ukraine only recently.
She also stated that Ukraine is ready to send 17 more Buk launchers to the US for refurbishment, but American engineers can only produce 5 per month.
The other project, a ground-based launcher that uses Soviet-era radars to fire old US missiles, was presented with the aid package on October 11.
The “FrankenSAM” uses American-made AIM-9M Sidewinder supersonic missiles, which were developed in the 1950s and are used on F-16 and F-18 fighter jets.
The NYT writes that US defense officials and engineers are also testing what may be the most powerful “FrankenSAM” yet: it consists of Patriot missiles and a launcher that works with older, domestically made Ukrainian radar systems.
A Pentagon official said on Wednesday that the system successfully hit a drone during the test. According to the official, the system is scheduled to be sent to Ukraine this winter.