How does UK's donated Storm Shadow cruise missiles enhance Ukraine's defense against Russian Forces?

On May 11, 2023, the British Government confirmed the delivery of the Storm Shadow long-range cruise missile to Ukraine. The missile deployment occurs concurrently with the Ukrainian military's readiness to initiate a retaliatory operation aimed at reclaiming territories in the east and south of the country, currently under the control of the Russian armed forces. In this article, discover the combat capabilities of the Storm Shadow missile.  
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The Storm Shadow / SCALP (Système de Croisière Autonome à Longue Portée in French) is a long-range, air-launched, stand-off attack missile. (Picture source Army Recognition)

The Storm Shadow is a British, French and Italian low-observable air-launched cruise missile, manufactured by MBDA, a missile developer and manufacturer with operations in a number of European countries and the United States.

The development of the Storm Shadow missile, also known as SCALP EG (Système de Croisière Autonome à Longue Portée – Emploi Général) in France, began in the 1990s. It was designed as a long-range, stand-off missile that could be launched from aircraft to attack strategic targets while keeping the aircraft out of the range of most air defense systems. The missile was developed by Matra and British Aerospace (now MBDA).

The Storm Shadow cruise missile, notable for its debut in active combat during the UK Royal Air Force's operations in the 2003 Iraq invasion, boasts an impressive range of approximately 560 km (or 300 nautical miles). This remarkable range allows the missile to target strategic locations from a significant distance, thereby safeguarding the launching aircraft from the reach of anti-aircraft defenses.

The missile is currently in service with the air forces of several countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. It is typically launched from Tornado, Typhoon, and Rafale aircraft.

The Storm Shadow cruise missile is an impressive piece of technology with substantial weight, coming in at 1,300 kilograms. Its length measures 5.10 meters, demonstrating its substantial size. It utilizes a Turbomeca Microturbo TRI 60-30 turbojet propulsion system, which propels it to its targets with immense speed and precision.

As far as its navigation system is concerned, it is guided by an INS (Inertial Navigation ), GPS (Global Positioning System), and Terrain Reference Navigation system, making it highly accurate. The warhead, a key part of the missile, is designed for blast penetration, ensuring its destructive capabilities. Furthermore, its range is substantial, exceeding 250 kilometers, allowing it to reach distant targets effectively.

The Storm Shadow missile is prepared for each mission by being pre-loaded with comprehensive details about the target and the trajectory it needs to follow to reach it. After being deployed from the aircraft, the missile relies on its onboard navigation system to follow a low-altitude, pre-determined path, receiving continuous updates throughout its flight. It uses an imaging infrared seeker to incessantly compare the actual landscape with the pre-stored images until it reaches its target.

The missile comes equipped with a dual-stage bomb royal ordnance augmented charge (BROACH) warhead that combines blast and penetration capabilities.

The operation of the warhead involves a two-step process. The first stage initiates contact with the target by slicing its surface, paving the way for the second stage. The second, and larger, stage of the warhead follows, penetrating deep into the target before detonation.