Espreso. Global

Ukraine's Hybrid FrankenSAM hits real target: five systems already deployed

17 January, 2024 Wednesday

FrankenSAM is a general project to combine Soviet SAMs and American missiles, and the first type is already successfully operating in the Ukrainian Air Force and destroying targets

Defense Express writes about this.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine have used the hybrid air defense systems under the name FrankenSAM for the first time. Today, on January 17, a Shahed-136 missile was shot down at night. The head of Ukraine's Ministry of Strategic Industries, Oleksandr Kamyshin, announced this during the Davos summit.

According to him, the target was destroyed at a distance of 9 km. At the same time, the Air Force Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces reported that during this attack, Russia used 20 self-detonating drones launched from the Prymorsko-Akhtarsk area, 19 of which were destroyed within Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Dnipro, and Kirovohrad regions.

“He also noted that about five of these systems have already been deployed from the total package of the FrankenSAM project. But, according to Oleksandr Kamyshin, despite the integration of existing components, a test cycle preceded the successful combat use, and the first test launch was not successful. However, thanks to the professionalism of Ukrainian and American manufacturers, the air defense system was brought to full combat capability,” the article explains. 

The minister did not disclose the name of the SAM itself or the components it was assembled from. As a reminder, there are three publicly known FrankenSAM projects: with AIM-9M missiles on an unknown launcher, with AIM-7/RIM-7 missiles on Buk air defense systems, and Patriot missiles and launchers with Ukrainian radar. The supply of the first such unannounced type of air defense system was announced in late October 2023, Defense Express recalled. 

In this context, it can only be assumed that the first FrankenSAM to have already shot down a target is the project with AIM-7/RIM-7 on the Buk missile system. It was the first known, and what's more, it can have a range of up to 20 km.

At the same time, the AIM-9M, given the known data on the American MIM-72 Chaparral, which also used slightly adapted AIM-9s, had a range of up to 5 km. However, a range of 9 km is considered to be achievable for a ground launch for the latest version of the AIM-9X, which is also integrated into NASAMS.

It is noted that in any case, not only the deployment, but also the successful combat use of FrankenSAM means that the question of where to get missiles for Soviet air defense systems is being resolved. After all, each time they are launched, they are no longer available, and the only country that produces anti-aircraft missiles for the Buk is Russia. Therefore, the integration of AIM-7/RIM-7 into them is crucial.

Read also FrankenSAM hybrid air defense systems operate in Ukraine: Defense Express unveils details

Defense Express states that this also applies to other Soviet systems. After all, an AIM-9 air defense system with a range of 5 km is a direct analog of the Soviet Strela-10 air defense system. And the emergence of FrankenSAM with Patriot missiles and launchers, but with Ukrainian radar, makes it possible to significantly increase the number of not only the longest-range SAMs, but also missile defense systems to destroy ballistic missiles.

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