Ukrainian Defense Minister Olexii Reznikov recently published a picture of a modified Ukrainian Su-24 Fencer aircraft outfitted with the British Storm Shadow missile, in what could be the first direct admission that a modified Fencer is being used as a carrier for the newly acquired long-range missiles.
After meeting British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, Reznikov tweeted three images and a lengthy caption acknowledging British support for Ukraine.
In one image, the two leaders are seen shaking hands, while in another, Wallace could be seen with a “thumbs up.”
Tucked between these two images is the most intriguing part of the tweet – a photo of a Su-24 fitted with a Storm Shadow missile which was given to Wallace to sign.
In this particular image, a Storm Shadow is carried beneath the fixed wing’s “glove” pylon on the right side of the jet. Wallace autographed the photo with: “To all the brave ‘few’ who risk all for the glory of Ukraine.”
As soon as the image was published, it went viral online, piquing the interest of military watchers. The official Twitter account of ‘Ukraine Weapon Tracker’ published a high-resolution version of the same image, shedding more light on the details of the aircraft laden with Storm Shadow missiles.
“We obtained the first-ever HQ image of the Storm Shadow missile used by the Ukrainian Air Force, carried by Su-24MR “Yellow 60″ of the 7th Tactical Aviation Brigade. This aircraft, refurbed in 2018, was originally a reconnaissance model-until recently of limited use,” the group said in a tweet.
I was glad to host my great friend Ben Wallace, @BWallaceMP, in Kyiv.
We had a very meaningful discussion focused on priorities for increasing Ukraine’s defense capabilities, particularly providing long-range weapons such as Storm Shadow.
We also discussed prospects for… pic.twitter.com/kVEo8dtFMc
— Oleksii Reznikov (@oleksiireznikov) May 24, 2023
Despite being an archaic Soviet warplane, Su-24 remains a potent long-range attack aircraft with precision attack capability. The Su-24MR (Fencer-E) is a specialized derivative for tactical reconnaissance which entered service four decades ago in 1983.
The aircraft seems to have been modified to carry the Storm Shadow, although the details of the modification have not been made public by the Ukrainian Air Force.
#Ukraine: We obtained the first ever HQ image of the ??Storm Shadow missile used by the Ukrainian Air Force, carried by Su-24MR "Yellow 60" of the 7th Tactical Aviation Brigade.
This aircraft, refurbed in 2018, was originally a reconnaissance model-until recently of limited use. pic.twitter.com/4TXIVAHIgG
— ?? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) May 24, 2023
It’s unclear whether the image shows a Su-24 taking off on a mission with a Storm Shadow, although the landing gear looks to have been retracted extremely rapidly, so the image could be depicting a low-level flypast. On previous occasions, some images have surfaced online showing the aircraft flying low over Donbas.
EurAsian Times had previously reported on claims made by Russian media that Storm Shadow missiles were launched by specially modernized Su-24s under cover of MiG-29 and Su-27 fighters with High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARM).
According to reports, an array of Western munitions, including the US-supplied AGM-88 HARM and the JDAM-ER, had been integrated into the Su-27 and the MiG-29 fighter jets instead of the archaic Su-24.
Military experts, and media reports, have claimed that even the Su-27 Flanker could be outfitted with the Storm Shadow missile.
Ukraine’s MiG-29 and Su-25 attack jets are not equipped to transport the nearly 2,900-pound Storm Shadow. These two aircraft carry armaments that weigh no more than 1,100 pounds each, which leaves the Su-24 and the Su-27 as carrier options.
The Su-24 can carry armaments weighing over 3,300 pounds each, while the bigger Fencer and Flanker have far greater payload capacity.
Storm Shadows Are Pounding Russian Troops
On May 24, Ukrainian Defense Minister Olexii Reznikov officially admitted that the military is successfully using Storm Shadow missiles.
“We had the opportunity to shake hands with pilots who were trained in the United Kingdom and are already successfully using the Storm Shadow weapon,” the minister said.
This admission comes a week after a similar acknowledgment by the British Defense Secretary. “All I can confirm is it has been used successfully, that is the information I received from the Ukrainians, and I’m pleased it is helping them to defend their country,” Wallace told CNN’s Jim Sciutto in an exclusive interview on “News Central.”
The first evidence of the use of Storm Shadow appeared in the Luhansk region, days after Wallace first confirmed the missile delivery, the longest-range munition in Ukraine’s arsenal.
Russia, on its part, continues to claim that all the Storm Shadow missiles fired at its positions are intercepted and shot down. However, military experts believe this missile presents another big challenge to the Russian troops that had to learn and cope with HIMARS introduced on the battlefield last year.
#BREAKING: Alleged fragments of the STORM SHADOW Cruise Missile used by Ukrainian Armed Forces, found at missile strike sites in the city of Luhansk.#Luhansk #Ukraine #Russia #storm_shadow #UK #Missile #StormShadow pic.twitter.com/M8jfBo6S1P
— EurAsian Times (@THEEURASIATIMES) May 13, 2023
Storm Shadow is believed to be aimed at pushing Russians further behind the lines as the troops get ahead with their much-anticipated counteroffensive. However, an Azeri military expert Agil Rustamzade said in an interview with NV on May 23 that Ukraine needed at least 500 Storm Shadow missiles to exhaust Russia.
Emboldened by the success of Storm Shadows in Ukraine, France has also pledged to deliver its SCALP-EG missiles. Not just that, a German lawmaker has also made a case for transferring the German Taurus SPED 350 long-range missiles to Ukraine to bolster its long-range strike capability.