French SCALP-EG Cruise Missiles Officially In Use In Ukraine

France’s SCALP-EGs are now being fired from Ukrainian Su-24s and President Zelensky visited an attack jet unit to commemorate the milestone.

byTyler Rogoway|
Ukraine MoD Screencap.


SCALP-EG, which is the French variant of the UK's Storm Shadow air-launched cruise missile, is now officially in service with Ukraine's armed forces. While France has said it would give Ukraine SCALP-EG as far back as May, and confirmed the decision in mid-July, images from a visit by President Zelensky to an Su-24 Fencer unit that fires the missiles have confirmed its operational status.

Zelensky signed a SCALP-EG that was brightly adorned with its designation in French flag colors and a Ukrainian coat of arms with the Eiffel Tower set in it as it hung off an Su-24 Fencer. SCALP-EG stands for "Système de Croisière Autonome à Longue Portée – Emploi Général" or "Long Range Autonomous Cruise Missile System – General Purpose" in English. The missiles are built by MBDA.

Ukraine MoD

A subsequent tweet by Ukraine's Defense Ministry attributed the missile - referred to by its U.K. moniker - as having crated bridges in Chongar and Henichesk. These spans work as a key arteries for conveying supplies and personnel from occupied Crimea to Russian troops along the frontlines to the north.

And interesting depiction of half Mirage 2000 and half Su-24 was also seen on the missile. Military aviation reporter Gareth Jennings also spotted the unusual logo.

It isn't clear what exactly this means, although it could just illustrate two launch platforms, one French, one Ukraine. SCALP-EG can also be launched from France's Rafale though.

Storm Shadows have been very effective at making pinpoint strikes on key Russian targets. As a result, Russia has turned to trying to strike the missiles and their launch platforms — the Su-24 Fencer, of which Ukraine has a limited number that are operational — via long-range missile and drone strikes. These have not been successful at stopping their use, but the weapons are not in unlimited supply. It is widely understood that the UK's inventory is in the high hundreds, not thousands. This is why introducing the French variant of the weapon is critical. It expands Ukraine's magazine depth of these precious precision-guided standoff munitions at a time when it really needs them badly. Ukraine began using Storm Shadows in early May.

SCALP-EG/Storm Shadow's BROACH two-stage warhead is capable of penetrating fortified targets, and it can be used against bridges especially well. The weapon's fuzing can be set to a desired effect, but one tactic includes hitting a bridge deck at a shallow angle parallel to its direction, breaking through the deck, then striking the pylon below. Simply cratering the bridge deck is another less complex and permanent option.

Their infrared seeker that uses image matching (DSMAC — Digital Scene Matching Area Correlator) is impossible to jam in the RF spectrum and its passive nature, combined with the missile's stealthy features, makes it a challenge to detect and especially engage/shoot down, with it often being detected before its too late. And they may have gotten some help on certain strikes in the form of advanced decoys. That doesn't mean some have not been lost to enemy fire or malfunction though and the wreckage subsequently exploited.

You can read much more about these missiles and their capabilities in this this piece of ours.

Ukraine's request for Germany's similar Taurus missile have still gone unfulfilled. The ask was officially denied in July, but there are some signs that this could change in the future.

Regardless, a second supply of Ukraine's most far-reaching, hard-hitting, and advanced standoff weapon now in play, we very well could see expanded strikes, especially as Kyiv looks for any ways to accelerate its slow-going counteroffensive.

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