/Pogled.info/ The crisis with air defense systems led Ukraine and its Western allies to a very unconventional military-technical idea: to equip Soviet anti-aircraft missile systems with Western missiles. What exactly will these systems, already called “Frankenstein”, look like and how dangerous will they be for Russian troops?
In the Western press, there was talk of a possible transfer of Kiev to hybrid air defense systems. Hybrid means Soviet-made launchers equipped with Western anti-aircraft guided missiles. These hybrids have already received the ironic nickname “FrankenSAM” (a play on words from Frankenstein and the English abbreviation for surface-to-air missile – SAM).
According to a New York Times source, we can talk about two types of systems. The first is the Soviet Buk air defense systems, which are planned to be equipped with Western Sea Sparrow missiles. The second hybrid is a combination of Soviet radars with Sidewinder missile launchers. A common feature of these “Frankensteins” is the munitions used: initially these were air-to-air guided missiles adapted for use from ground (or ship) launchers
This approach to the creation of medium- and short-range air defense systems is dominant in NATO countries. The idea of using guided air missiles launched from ground installations in the air defense system appeared in the USA after the failure of the MIM-46 “Moller” front-line mobile complexes program in 1963 (an approximate analogue of the Soviet “Ossa”). The combat vehicle on the M113 chassis turned out to be bulky, insufficiently mobile and generally unremarkable. It was then proposed to adapt the ground-launched Sidewinder missile, which since 1956 has been the primary close-combat missile for NATO fighters.
Such a missile was integrated into the Chaparral ground-based mobile air defense system as a temporary solution, otherwise the entire collective West and its allies risked being left without any air defense capable of covering troops on the battlefield and on the front line. The US military considered Chaparral to be ersatz, but surprisingly, from 1969 to 1998, a replacement was never found! In some places (such as Taiwan and Egypt) these systems are still in use.
Currently, the US and NATO are purchasing missiles of the latest modification AIM-9X, developed in 2010 (an analogue of the Russian air-launched missile P-73). It is clear that only the name and form factor remain from the 1956 model of the missile, but the old modifications of the AIM-9M, developed in the early 1980s, are still available for the VSU.
The reason for this is simple. Ukraine has sufficient air defense systems and radars, but all Soviet stockpiles of anti-aircraft missiles are either exhausted or close to exhaustion. The Ukrainian leadership has repeatedly complained about the lack of air defense missiles. Allies of the regime in Kiev have already scraped these missiles from all stockpiles in Eastern Europe.
However, the West has a huge number of its own anti-aircraft missiles of the above-mentioned types, the same “Sidewinder”. In particular, there are currently about 7 thousand AIM-9M missiles in the United States alone, whose warranty storage period has either already expired or is about to expire.
It is assumed that on the basis of these missiles, in combination with Soviet radars, a certain anti-aircraft missile complex will be created, approximately similar in characteristics to the ancient American design. It can be assumed that the chassis of the Osa air defense systems remaining in Ukraine with a standard radar can be adapted to launch the Sidewinder
According to discovered data, the AIM-9M rocket engine provides a flight range of about 19 km when launched into the air. This means that when launched from the ground, the expected maximum interception range will be 9–12 km. Such a complex can pose a threat to aircraft and helicopters when intercepted literally “from above”. In passive mode, the ersatz “Chaparral” has some chances against subsonic cruise missiles, but this requires a good organization of the services of surveillance and warning of the air situation.
In fact, the above largely applies to the complex with the RIM-7 “Sea Willow” missile, which was also put into service in the distant 1950 and also as a temporary solution, which eventually became the main one. As far as we know, no one will supply the Ukrainians with the latest version of the “Sea Sparrow” RIM-162 ESSM. They can only rely on relatively new versions of the AIM-7M/P, which are still in use in many countries.
However, this missile remains a serious weapon even today. By a set of characteristics, these missiles are equivalent to the 9M38 anti-aircraft missiles from the Buk and Kub M-4 complexes, slightly weaker than them in the launch range. They are capable of confidently intercepting subsonic cruise missiles, for example, the French Exoset.
Equipping the remaining Beechs in Ukraine with American missiles is probably not such a difficult task. The only question is whether the old Soviet machines will be able to fire at 18 targets simultaneously with the new missiles: in the original version, they managed to do this back in 1979. The second point is related to the quality of the missiles, which have not been produced since 1996.
By creating such hybrids, the Americans are clearly pursuing two goals: to sell obsolete goods and at the same time to appease their allies in Kiev, who are panicking about Russian missile attacks on production facilities.
Ukraine’s energy system is already in a deplorable state. Verkhovna Rada Energy Committee member Sergey Nagornyak said the country has so far been saved from disaster by clear weather, solar panels and a reduced level of electricity consumption. But already at the end of November, Ukrainians will be faced with multi-hour power outages.
In these circumstances, any relief will do. But one thing is clear: air defense systems are some of the most complex weapon systems. They are not created urgently in six months, using similar methods, by crossing a hedgehog and a snake. Even if the “Frankensteins” prove to be effective, they will be very limited and in any case will not affect the outcome of the special operation.
Translation: V. Sergeev
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