TechUkraine strikes deeper: France approves long-range missile use

Ukraine strikes deeper: France approves long-range missile use

SCALP under the wing of a Su-24 aircraft.
SCALP under the wing of a Su-24 aircraft.
Images source: © X, @clashreport

3:29 PM EDT, June 2, 2024

Ukrainians obtained permission from France, which, unlike the Americans, allowed them to attack targets in the Russian Kursk and Belgorod regions using long-range weapons. Here’s what the Ukrainians can now use.

The French granted permission to use SCALP cruise missiles, which are the French equivalent of the Storm Shadow missiles, to attack targets in the Russian Kursk and Belgorod regions.

This is tragic news for the Russians, as Ukrainians have been using these missiles with great success to strike Russian strategic targets in Crimea and beyond.

SCALP / Storm Shadow missiles: Russians' long-range European nightmare

SCALP cruise missiles are the French equivalent of the Storm Shadow missiles. Produced by the MBDA corporation since the early 2000s, these missiles result from British-French cooperation dating back to the 1990s.

The outcome is a stealth technology cruise missile, launched from aircraft, with a range of about 310 miles, or about 186 miles for export customers due to Missile Technology Control Regime limitations. In the Ukrainians' case, the carriers are cleverly modified Su-24 aircraft.

Storm Shadow / SCALP missiles are equipped with a turbojet engine, allowing subsonic speeds (0.8-0.9 Ma). They weigh 2,866 lbs, of which about 992 lbs is the BROACH (Bomb Royal Ordnance Augmented Charge) warhead.

The BROACH warhead is multifunctional and consists of two parts. The first is a small shaped charge designed to breach the target or damage its structure. The second part is a penetrating warhead that detonates with a delay of up to 240 ms. This delay is set in the Multi-Application Fuze Initiation System (MAFIS) fuse before the missile is launched, based on the target's structure (for example, the estimated thickness of reinforced concrete). The warhead can operate in three modes:         

  1. Impact Detonation
  2. Airburst Detonation, scattering the area with fragments
  3. Delay Detonation

An advanced guidance system ensures the missile's hit's precision. It combines inertial and satellite navigation with a fourth-generation infrared (IIR) sensor that detects the target's thermal image. This system ensures pinpoint accuracy in the final phase of flight (the sensor compares the observed image with a preloaded target photograph) and also helps track the terrain.

Thanks to this, the missile's computer knows exactly where it is, even in the event of GPS signal jamming, which the Russians have mastered. This functionality has caused significant problems for some types of American weapons, such as the GLSDB.

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