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FT: Ukraine repurposes US-supplied AIM-9s missiles for air defense

by Dinara Khalilova October 24, 2023 2:10 PM 2 min read
US marines load an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile into a F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet during the semi-annual Philippine-US military exercise dubbed Marine Aviation Support Activity (MASA) 23, in Subic Bay, north of Manila on July 13, 2023. (Ted Aljube/AFP via Getty Images)
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Ukraine has successfully converted redundant U.S.-provided air-to-air AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles into surface-to-air missiles, the Financial Times (FT) reported on Oct. 24, citing an unnamed Ukrainian official.

"Those (AIM-9) missiles were out of operation," the official said. "We fixed them. We found a way of launching them from the ground. It's a kind of self-made air defense."

The scheme to repurpose the missiles with a new makeshift launcher, known in the Pentagon as the FrankenSAM project, was first reported by the Associated Press on Oct. 13.

The modified projectiles would help Ukraine to get through the winter when Russia is expected to target the country's energy infrastructure, but this is not a long-term solution, added the official cited by the FT.

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According to the source, this was one of a number of similar initiatives involving the transformation of old materiel in U.S. stocks into essential weaponry.

"We have an agreed solution where we take something obsolete and make it something different."

The U.S. and Ukrainian engineers have also managed to modify a Soviet-era Buk air defense launcher so that it can fire U.S.-made RIM-7 missiles, an anonymous official told AP.

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