Navy bought actual Supersonic Anti-Ship Missiles from Russia to train against them

Navy bought actual Supersonic Anti-Ship Missiles from Russia to train against them Navy bought actual Supersonic Anti-Ship Missiles from Russia to train against them
What do you do when you need to combat an enemy weapons system but can’t do so without understanding it? Well, in America, you... Navy bought actual Supersonic Anti-Ship Missiles from Russia to train against them

What do you do when you need to combat an enemy weapons system but can’t do so without understanding it? Well, in America, you buy the enemy’s weapons system.

Such a strange tactic was carried out in the mid 1990s when, following frustrations in learning how to accurately develop a high-speed target to test anti-supersonic weapons platforms, the US Navy simply decided to buy the MA-31, a variant of Russia’s air-launched rocket-ramjet-powered Kh-31 missile.

In 1995, as an effort to meet the Navy’s requirement for a Supersonic Sea-Skimming Target (SSST), McDonnell Douglas received Kh-31as for evaluation from Zveda-Strela, resulting in the  MA-31.

Known by NATO as the AS-17 Krypton, the missile was designed to hunt Aegis vessels and Patriot missile batteries, entering service in the 1980s.

Taking advantage of Russia’s financial woes in the 1990s, McDonnell Douglas and the US military ultimately ended up buying Z-S’s Kh-31 missile bodies and motors, stripped of their warheads and guidance systems, for conversion into targets.

According to The Drive, the missiles provided perfect simulated targets, and could perform major feats, including wave-skimming maneuvers exceeding 15 gs.

The Navy would go on to develop improved versions of the missiles, and they would eventually evolve into American armaments, equipped with superior hardware and software that cast a shadow over previous models.

With its job done, the MA-31 bowed out gracefully in 2007, a final chapter in what was one of the most bizarre missile development stories ever told.

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