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Ukraine Strikes Russian Air Defense Base with British Storm Shadow Missiles.

On the morning of May 13, 2024, Ukrainian forces launched a targeted attack with Storm Shadow missiles on a Russian air defense base located on Mount Ai-Petri in the occupied region of Crimea. According to sources close to the Russian military, the strike resulted in casualties and considerable damage.
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An RAF Tornado GR4 aircraft carrying two Storm Shadow missiles under the fuselage. (Picture source: UK MoD)

The commander of military unit 85683, identified as Oleksandr Kulakov, was among those killed in the attack. The assault also claimed the life of another serviceman and left an unspecified number of military personnel injured, further affecting the Russian forces stationed there.

Mount Ai-Petri, a strategically important location currently under Russian control, houses the 3rd Radio Engineering Regiment. This unit is part of the 40th Radio Engineering Brigade, a crucial element of the operational structure of the Russian Air Force. The base plays a pivotal role in the air defense network that spans the peninsula occupied by Russian forces.

The United Kingdom has supplied Storm Shadow cruise missiles to Ukraine, thus enhancing the Ukrainian military's capabilities. This delivery, confirmed by British authorities, took place on May 11, 2023.

The Storm Shadow missiles, known for their long range and precision, are intended to enable Ukraine to conduct deep strikes into territories occupied by Russian forces, including areas of Crimea, which the UK considers to be Ukrainian territory illegally occupied. The UK's decision to provide these missiles has been described as a calibrated response to ongoing escalations in the region and aims to give Ukraine a significant strategic advantage in its ongoing conflict with Russia.

The UK is not the only one to have provided this type of missile; France has also supplied Scalp missiles to the Ukrainian armed forces, which are the same as the British Storm Shadows.

The Storm Shadow (or Scalp) is a long-range cruise missile launched from the air, jointly designed by France and the UK. This missile weighs approximately 1,300 kilograms and is used by several countries, including Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, India, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and, of course, Ukraine. It comes in two versions: a standard version with a range of 560 kilometers and an export version that can reach up to 250 kilometers.

The Storm Shadow can reach a speed of 1000 km/h, equivalent to a Mach speed of 0.8 to 0.95, depending on altitude. It is equipped with a 450-kilogram BROACH warhead, designed to penetrate hard and buried targets before detonating. The missile's guidance system is particularly advanced, incorporating inertial navigation coupled with GPS and TERPROM, a terrain reference navigation system. For the final phase of its trajectory, it uses an imaging infrared DSMAC guidance system, which increases its accuracy just before impact.

As for its propulsion, the Storm Shadow is powered by a Turbomeca Microturbo TRI 60-30 turbojet, producing a thrust of 5.4 kN, contributing to its ability to maintain high speed over long distances. Its dimensions include a length of 5.1 meters, a diameter of 0.48 meters, and a wingspan of 3.0 meters, allowing it to remain compact and effective for long-range strategic strike missions.

The aerial combat seems to be intensifying in Ukraine, or rather, the neutralization of air defense systems appears to be accelerating lately, as both sides seem to want to curb the air defenses of the adversary, perhaps to relaunch large-scale aerial missions.

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