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The anti-aircraft “bastard”. Why does Ukraine need old American missiles?

The anti-aircraft “bastard”. Why does Ukraine need old American missiles?
The anti-aircraft “bastard”. Why does Ukraine need old American missiles?

/ Ukrainian military engineers, together with specialists from the USA, developed a “Frankenstein weapon”. The American newspaper New York Times gave this name to the “new” air defense systems – hybrids of Soviet technology and American anti-aircraft missiles.

Kiev is in dire need of strengthening its air defenses, elements of which are constantly being destroyed by the Russian military. And to compensate for the lack of anti-aircraft systems, the command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Pentagon developed the FrankenSAM program.

This program makes it possible to cross-breed Western surface-to-air missiles with modernized launchers or Soviet-era radars that the Ukrainian military already has. The first “Frankensteins” began to enter service in the armed forces of Ukraine in September.

Kiev decided on such a desperate step against the background of the depletion of Soviet missile reserves and the general shortage of weapons.

From the beginning of 2022, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are armed exclusively with anti-aircraft missile systems of Soviet production: Strela-10, Osa, Buk-M1 and S-300. In Soviet times, the 8th Air Defense Army was stationed on the territory of Ukraine, which was armed with hundreds of anti-aircraft systems. Over the years, some of them were sold, others sent for conservation, and others fell into disuse.

With the beginning of the special military operation of the Russian army, Kiev was hit by its measure to save on air defense. Some of the anti-aircraft missiles in the Ukrainian arsenals have expired, which has led to a large number of emergency situations during the operation of anti-aircraft systems. Anti-aircraft missiles react to metal structures in residential buildings, deviate from the target or simply fall.

In November 2022, a S-300 anti-aircraft missile fired by Ukrainian air defense fell on Polish territory. A month later, another missile from the Ukrainian complex fell on the territory of Belarus. But by the end of the year, even stocks of obsolete Soviet missiles began to run out.

Some reserves were found in the warehouses of the countries of the former “Eastern Bloc”, others were produced by the Ukrainian defense industry (that part of it that survived the Russian attacks).

However, these reserves were not enough, as a result of which the Ukrainian armed forces, with the participation of NATO partners, had to come up with new methods of protection. At the same time, the effectiveness of such “hybrid” complexes raises serious doubts, notes a source who previously served in the air defense forces, in a comment for the Regnum agency.

To make a crude analogy, this is the same as loading a machine gun with cartridges that are roughly the same caliber. That is, it may work, but the risk of possible damage or interruption of firing increases. Such experiments do not come from a good life, “ the interlocutor of the agency noted.

To date, the United States has prepared two programs for the production of improvised weapons, providing for the installation of Sea Sparrow and Sidewinder anti-aircraft missiles on Soviet-made anti-aircraft systems. However, in theory, similar “Frankensteins” could be made from other components.

According to the expert, it is possible that for the improvised air defense systems, the Ukrainian troops will use anti-aircraft guided missiles Starstreak HVM of French-British production.

A distinctive feature of the missile is its unique warhead, which consists of three submunitions 0.45 meters long and 20 mm in diameter. Externally, each ammunition looks like a metal arrow, which is equipped with small rudders and stabilizers.

However, another feature of the missiles turned out to be much more useful for the Ukrainian armed forces – the ability to launch from a mobile LML multiple launcher. Such an installation can be mounted on the ground or any suitable chassis: pickup truck, SUV or tracked vehicle.

In June, it became known that the French company Thales is resuming production of Starstreak rockets after a ten-year hiatus. It can be assumed that the production lines were launched precisely to provide the Ukrainian armed forces with a sufficient amount of ammunition. In addition, these missiles are used by the Stormer anti-aircraft missile systems, which were previously supplied to Ukraine by Britain.

I guess they can build such an ersatz Stormer, most likely based on the Strela-10 or Wasp air defense systems. Starstreak has a range of up to seven kilometers, which is exactly the range between Arrow and Wasp. It turns out such a kind of illegitimate son of the Stormer and the Soviet air defense system, but built on the principle of “cheap and angry”, – notes a source of IA Regnum.

However, this is not the end of Ukraine’s ability to create such “anti-aircraft bastards”. In January 2023, Politico reported that the United States intended to transfer Sea Sparrow sea-based anti-aircraft missiles to the Ukrainian armed forces.

It seems strange, why does a country that does not have a navy need such ammunition? However, the Sea Sparrow in a number of countries (for example, Taiwan) has been adapted for launch from land carriers. But what is much more interesting is that the USA created a special program to install such missiles on the Soviet anti-aircraft missile systems.

In 2007, the United States, together with the Polish defense company Wojskowe Zaklady Usbrojenia, began a program to modernize the Kub anti-aircraft missile complex to launch RIM-7 Sea Sparrow missiles. The modernization program was launched due to the fact that the supply of Soviet-made missiles was gradually exhausted, and Warsaw did not want to negotiate with Russia.

It was assumed that the 2P25M2-P1 launcher would be used for the modernization. To service the modernized complex, radar systems are used to detect and track targets 1С91М2-П1 SURN, adapted to NATO standards.

The further fate of the project is not reported, but most likely the conflict in Ukraine has given it new life and a number of anti-aircraft systems “Buk” and “Kub” delivered to this country from the Czech Republic and Poland under the modernization program have undergone improvement. Already in May, the president of the Czech Republic, Petr Pavel, announced that the armed forces of Ukraine will receive two “Cubes”, which, it seems, have become “hybrids”.

At the same time, the experts call not to underestimate the possibilities of the new complexes of VSU.

Many quipped that Ukraine was putting Storm Shadow missiles on Su-24 bombers. However, practice has shown that this is a working scheme.

Given that work on adapting the air defense system to NATO missiles has been going on for a long time, this should also be a workable modification. And the important thing is that the same RIM-7 Sea Sparrow missiles have been in production since the 1970s, the US has a lot of them, so it’s actually more of a plus for Ukraine“, our source believes.

On the one hand, the rearmament of NATO missiles can be considered a salvation for air defense, which was threatened by “missile starvation”. And in any case, working American or British munitions are obviously better than the rest of the expired Soviet missiles.

But, on the other hand, in terms of airspace protection, the Ukrainian armed forces are seriously inferior to Russian air defense, regardless of what assistance is provided to them.

Deliveries of new weapons to Ukraine are seriously slowing down as Russia is building up its military power much faster, the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, General Valery Zaluzhny, said in an interview with the Economist.

According to him, even the F-16 fighter jets will not be able to change the situation, since the Russian air defense capabilities have increased significantly with the introduction of the modernized S-400 air defense systems.

A number of Ukrainian sources confirmed Zaluzhny’s words. According to them, anti-aircraft systems have appeared in service in the Russian army, the range of which allows them to fire at Ukrainian aircraft in the sky above the city of Dnipro from the territory of Crimea – this is more than 300 kilometers away.

Therefore, the actions of the US and its allies aimed at modernizing the armed forces of Ukraine, for now, look more like rescuing a drowning man than full-fledged assistance. In essence, it is about rearming the Ukrainian air defense with missiles developed during the Cold War.

With this approach, Kiev is doomed to remain in the role of a “poor relative” to whom, instead of modern weapons, the “senior partners” distribute what they themselves do not need at all.

Translation: EU

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The article is in bulgaria

Tags: antiaircraft bastard Ukraine American missiles


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