Ever since Ukraine secured the delivery of long-range Storm Shadow missiles from the United Kingdom, they have been used to hit some very high-value Russian targets.
However, there could be bad news for the UK as Russian troops have retrieved the deadly missile that appears to be “mostly intact.”
The Russian military from the volunteer detachment BARS-11 and the command of the Tsar’s Wolves unit pulled out almost an entire British Storm Shadow cruise missile from the warzone, Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Tsar’s Wolves Military Technical Center, told RIA Novosti.
“It was only partially destroyed – it fell very well flat. The missile was dismembered into several parts by our technical specialists right on the battlefield, the high-explosive and cumulative parts separately, the control unit separately, the wing was folded for ease of transportation,” Rogozin said.
Rogozin said that the missile used very high-level electronics, which withstood overloads when falling. The operation to evacuate the ‘trophy missile’ took two days.
The ‘trophy’ was handed over to technical specialists to study its design and filling. Rogozin indicated this would allow the Russian defense industry to find the most effective ways to counter the Storm Shadow.
This is not the first time that Russia has shot down a Storm Shadow missile or retrieved wreckage. The Russian air defense forces have intercepted and shot down several of these missiles since May. However, this is the first time an undamaged missile has been captured and confirmed.
The images posted of the missile that appears to be intact led to speculations that either the missile malfunctioned and fell on its own or was shot down by the Russian defense system.
Some military watchers even wondered whether the missile was brought down using Russia’s electronic jammers, especially since the Russian troops have used EW systems against Ukraine’s HIMARS rockets and Joint Direct Attack Munition-ER (JDAM-ER) smart precision-guided missiles.
However, the Storm Shadow is believed to be immune to hostile electronic jamming.
The Storm Shadow missiles are the longest-range weapons delivered to Ukraine. As the UK Defense Journal recently reported, they are launched from Su-24 Fencers using modified pylons from now-retired RAF Tornado strike jets.
Remnants of an allegedly malfunctioned/shot down UK-supplied Storm Shadow cruise missile, shown by Russians.#StormShadow #missile #cruise #Bryansk #Russia #Ukraine #UK #ukrainecounteroffensive #UkraineRussiaWar pic.twitter.com/zaFV7tjdQf
— EurAsian Times (@THEEURASIATIMES) July 5, 2023
For over a month, high-value targets have been attacked with the Storm Shadows well inside fortified Russian-controlled territory. It is no wonder that some may inevitably be lost to hostile fire and malfunction, especially with Russian air defense systems working around the clock.
And this excludes the fact that Ukraine has tried to prevent the shooting down of its Storm Shadow by Russian defense systems using decoys. EurAsian Times had earlier reported how the Ukrainians have been using ADM-160 MALD to distract Russian air defenses and allowing the Storm Shadows to reach their targets.
A military commentator told EurAsian Times on the condition of anonymity that the “Russians have shot down quite a few of these Storm Shadow/SCALP EG missiles in Syria. It might not be the first time they have retrieved a missile intact. However, they are surely projecting it as a big win, which is having the desired effect. The British and the French would be worried, even though they may not have ruled out this outcome before they shipped the missile to Ukraine. It is one risk that is always on the table.”
However, some other military analysts do believe that there is a lot that Russia could do with an intact missile. While some pointed out that the technology used in the missile belonged to the 80s, most commentators believe that Moscow would have already dispatched a team to study the missile, as was confirmed by Rogozin.
The prevalent opinion among military analysts that EurAsian Times spoke to, on and off the record, said that Western technology would not interest Russia, as current technology builds on the past and outdated technology.
When asked what would the Russian engineers would particularly look for, Indian Air Force veteran and an ardent follower of the Ukraine war, Squadron Leader Vijainder K. Thakur (retd), told EurAsian Times, “Besides shaping, Russia would be interested in measures used to reduce radar and heat signature which would include Radio Absorbent Material (RAM) coating & painting, electronic masking, etc. Of course, materials used to build the airframe and engine.”
The Storm Shadow’s engine would probably also be looked at for potential general intelligence, but Thakur emphasized that Russia would be fairly interested in knowing the IIR sensor techniques used for target recognition as well as Electronics & techniques used to counter EW (GPS & TERCOM jamming).
Storm Shadow is an advanced missile whose last stage of flight relies on a high-resolution imaging infrared (IIR) seeker with automatic target recognition (ATR). However, it also uses GPS/INS and a terrain reference for navigation. For the system to operate, images must be fed into its onboard memory and compared to what the seeker observes while executing its terminal attack.
If the missile sensor and supporting onboard electronics and software were to be recovered, they could be used better to understand the sensor’s capabilities and targeting procedure and find and exploit any flaws. Additionally, it can be used to advance Russian systems, which trail in these areas.
When asked by EurAsian Times whether studying the missile would aid Russia in developing a defense against it, Thakur said: “Russia is already doing a good job of countering Storm Shadows. Detailed study of the missile, in terms of radar signature characteristics, will allow Russian AD systems to focus on unique features for improved tracking.
However, Ukraine can always sneak missiles through Russian defenses using clever routing, attack timing, and terrain masking. The number might reduce.”
Russia getting its hand on an advanced British missile will likely have caused ripples in the West for the obvious reasons listed above. The fact that it almost coincides with the Ukrainian admission that the Storm Shadow was used to hit the strategic Chongar Bridge makes it all the more interesting.
- Contact the author at sakshi.tiwari9555 (at) gmail.com
- Follow EurAsian Times on Google News