Irony Or What! Ukraine’s FrankenSAM, Designed To Fight UAVs, Succumbs To Russian Drone Strike – Reports

In a major blow to Ukraine, the FrankenSAM air defense system, deployed by the Ukrainian air defense units to fend off Russian drone attacks, was reportedly destroyed by Russia somewhere in the Kharkiv sector. 

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A video on the social media site ‘Platform X’ on May 10 showed the loss of the FrankenSAM system. According to Russian military bloggers, the system was destroyed by the Russian troops using the Lancet loitering munition.

While the claims about the destruction of the first FrankenSAM were still doing the rounds, Russian bloggers claimed that a second launcher was also destroyed using an Iskander ballistic missile. The video has since gone viral on social media. Several Ukrainian military bloggers dismissed the claims as fabricated on Platform X.

EurAsian Times could not independently confirm the claims.

The destruction of the FrankenSAM is significant as this hybrid air defense system is essentially the combination of a Soviet-era Buk launcher and US-origin missiles that were delivered to Ukraine.

Ukraine started converting old and decommissioned US-made air-to-air missiles (AAM), including the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow and AIM-9 sidewinders missiles, into surface-to-air missiles (SAM) with American help last year. The conversions fulfilled the rapid demand for Ukraine’s air defense in the face of unabating Russian drone attacks and the inability of NATO allies to supply air defense systems to Kyiv’s forces.

The three variants of the US-implemented FrankenSAM project are the US Sea Sparrow missiles integrated into Soviet-era Buk launchers and the US Sidewinder air-to-air missile coupled with a Soviet radar. The project was kept under wraps. It is rumored that the most ambitious of this hybrid system would use a Patriot.

There is no confirmed information yet on which variant was struck, but some pro-Russian channels claim it was a Buk integrated with a Sea Sparrow. The system reportedly made its debut in the combat zone in December 2023. The FrankenSAM struck its first target, a Russian Shahed-class drone, in January this year.

Buk missile system Russia
File Image: Buk Missile System

Designed to combat the menace of Russian suicide drones, it is almost ironic that the system was claimed to have been struck by a Lancet.

This is not the only hybrid system destroyed this week. A few days ago, dramatic footage surfaced on social media showing what was described as the destruction of the first Supacat HMT-based AIM-132 ASRAAM “Franken-SAM” launcher operated by the Ukrainian military. The system was developed by the UK and delivered to Ukraine.

These losses come when Ukraine has intensified its pitch for more air defense systems with its NATO allies. Russian military bloggers also claimed that a Patriot missile defense launcher had been hit on May 10. However, Ukrainian bloggers made counter-claims, saying that the launcher was merely a decoy.

Renewed vigor has been seen in Russian attacks on Ukraine following the Victory Day celebrations on May 9. In addition to aiming for Ukraine’s air defense launchers, Russia also reportedly launched a new offensive in the Kharkiv Oblast.

Russia Is Coming For Kharkiv

On May 10, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky declared that Russian soldiers had started a fresh offensive campaign aimed at Kharkiv Oblast.

During the press briefing with Slovak President Zuzana Caputova in Kyiv, President Zelensky said, “Russia began a new wave of offensive actions in (Kharkiv’s) direction. Ukraine met (Russian forces) there with our troops, brigades, and artillery.”

Moscow has recently stepped up its attacks against Kharkiv amid speculation that it may launch an all-out offensive in the coming months. A report released by the Russian Defense Ministry pointed out that the Russian military attempted to breach Ukraine’s line of defense in Kharkiv Oblast.

Zelensky stated that assault units could have been mobilized by Russian troops farther out in the region. The President also noted that the Ukrainian command had been planning for a possible onslaught in that direction. ”Now, there is a fierce battle going on in (Kharkiv’s) direction,” Zelensky said.

According to reports, the Russian army has concentrated roughly 50,000 troops just across the border in preparations for an attempt to push the front southward and establish the buffer zone that Russian President Vladimir Putin had pledged earlier this year to prevent Ukrainian attacks on Russian border areas.

Russia launched an offensive in Kharkiv in 2022 but was unsuccessful in capturing the key border region. Over 44,000 buildings and infrastructure have been destroyed by Russia in the city since the start of the war.

Russia escalated its attacks on Kharkiv and the surrounding area towards the end of last year. It specifically targeted the energy infrastructure, roads, and residential areas, bombing them daily with a variety of weapons, including ballistic missiles, drones, and long-range glide bombs.

Now, a renewed offensive has been launched, albeit limited in scale. The fighting in the northwest of Kharkiv has intensified as a result of the recent Russian onslaught. However, it’s unclear what the likely course of action will be. Russia has claimed small battlefield victories even as the Ukrainians hold on to their positions.