After successfully deploying the long-range Storm Shadow missiles against Russia, Ukraine’s stand-off strike capability could be further bolstered with French SCALP-EG missiles.
On national television, the French President stopped short of announcing the delivery schedule for the SCALP-EG missiles to Ukraine. The French SCALP-EG missiles are mostly equipped on the advanced 4.5th generation Rafale fighter jet of the French Air Force and other operators of Rafale.
In January this year, a French official said the country had not ruled out arming Kyiv with fighter jets. At the time, a spokesperson of the Ukrainian Air Force said that the service was also seeking Rafales and Gripens from NATO states besides the F-16 fighter jet.
France has since gone back on their statements. When asked recently, Paris denied that any such plans were under consideration.
However, the decision to provide the SCALP-EG comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s surprise visit to France, reportedly aimed at securing more military equipment ahead of its planned counteroffensive.
In fact, with a stated range of more than 155 miles, the SCALP-EG missile has a range longer than any munition delivered by the US-led NATO, except Storm Shadow missiles. The French SCALP-EG is the French version of the Storm Shadow missile, jointly developed by France and the UK.
Macron has confirmed that France will follow in the UK’s footsteps and quickly send its version of the Storm Shadow long-range missile to Ukraine.
In France, it is known as Scalp EG.
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) May 16, 2023
The Storm Shadow missile has reportedly been used to launch massive strikes on the Luhansk region. Russia claimed to intercept several Storm Shadow missiles.
Earlier, there were reports in local Russian media that Ukraine was firing the Storm Shadow missiles from a modified Su-24 aircraft under the cover provided by the MiG-29 and the Su-27 fighter jets.
Although Ukraine has secured some game-changing equipment and munitions from the United States, the SCALP-EG/Storm Shadow missile goes over and beyond the range of all munitions provided by Washington to Kyiv.
This includes the HIMARS, the Ground Launch Small Diameter Bombs (GLSDB), the AGM-88 HARM, and the JADM-ER received by Kyiv with much fanfare.
Ukraine has long pleaded with NATO allies to provide longer-range munitions so that its forces could rattle the Russians by launching stand-off attacks. However, the NATO states led by the United States have hesitated over fear of provoking Russia and triggering an unwarranted escalation.
With the delivery of long-range Storm Shadow and possible deliveries of SCALP-EG, Britain, and France have broken the taboo and are believed to have paved the way for long-range munition to flow into Ukraine.
SCALP-EG’s Proven Combat Performance
The SCALP EG and Storm Shadow missiles are almost identical except for changing aircraft interface hardware and software. The missiles weigh 1,300 kilograms and have a range of 250-400 kilometers, with the capability to carry a 400-kilogram payload.
A triple navigation system that uses inertial navigation, GPS, and terrain reference navigation directs the SCALP EG/Storm Shadow. The missile can hit the intended impact location under challenging circumstances thanks to these cutting-edge navigation technologies, an infrared imaging seeker, and automatic target recognition algorithms.
During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Royal Air Force (RAF) Tornados fired Storm Shadow/SCALP-EG missiles for the first time operationally. Although they hadn’t yet begun official service, the 617 Squadron of the RAF used them during the battle due to “an accelerated testing schedule.”
Between March and April 2003, 27 missiles were reportedly launched into Iraq.
In 2011, SCALP EG/Storm Shadow missiles were fired at Libyan targets by French, Italian, and UK forces. While the UK is thought to have shot 60 of these missiles and France 15, the number of rockets fired by Italy is unknown.
The Storm Shadow/SCALP-EG was fired at pro-Gaddafi targets during the 2011 military intervention in Libya by French Air Force, Italian Air Force, and Royal Air Force. One of the targets was Al Jufra Air Base and a military bunker in Muammar Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte, Libya.
A few years later, the missiles were used while conducting operations against the Islamic State group. As part of Operation Chammal, French aircraft launched 12 SCALP missiles at ISIS locations in Syria.
The RAF fired four Storm Shadow missiles onto an ISIS bunker in Iraq, and all four missiles fired by Tornado aircraft made direct hits and deeply penetrated the bunker.
The UK government also admitted in October 2016 that Saudi Arabia used missiles it had supplied in the conflict in Yemen. The missiles have been reportedly used in the volatile Middle East on multiple occasions.
With their latest use by Ukrainian forces, this may be the first time they are being directly used against the formidable Russian forces.
The devastation caused by the missiles in the Luhansk region has been alleged to be significant by Ukraine, with the Russians warning that the delivery of these arms was equivalent to the unwarranted involvement of NATO in the conflict.