FrankenSAM program: Ukraine to retrofit AIM-9X Sidewinder On To Soviet-era Buk Launcher

Ukraine and the United States have engineered “hybrid” air defense systems allowing modern Western missiles to be fired from retrofitted Soviet launchers, The New York Times reported on 28 October.

The FrankenSAM program emerged late last year when Ukraine appealed to allies to find munitions for some 60 inactive Buk systems and radars in its arsenal, NYT wrote. With Western supplies of Buk missiles scarce, Ukrainian engineers proposed modifying the launchers to accept NATO-standard air defenses donated by the US and allies.

The hybrid systems combine Buk launchers with Sea Sparrow missiles in one version, and Soviet radars with AIM-9M Sidewinder missiles in another, after successful testing in the US, according to the NYT.

FrankenSAMs are “contributing to filling critical gaps in Ukraine’s air defenses, and this is the most important challenge that Ukraine faces today,” NYT reported, citing Laura K. Cooper, a senior US defense official.

According to the NYT source, the FrankenSAM combinations will be delivered to Ukraine “this fall.”

The hybrid air defenses are part of an effort by Kyiv and allies to bolster Ukraine’s ability to protect infrastructure and cities from Russian missile and drone attacks.

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