According to Russian military expert Yury Knutov, SCALP missiles are difficult to detect because the radar reflectivity (RCS) of this weapon is very small.
The comments were made by the leading Russian expert when talking about the capabilities of the SCALP cruise missile that was just supplied by France to Ukraine and Russia’s countermeasures with this weapon.
What is the difference between SCALP and Storm Shadow?
SCALP (meaning General Purpose is the French name for Storm Shadow which was previously transferred to Kiev by the UK) is a long-range stealthy, conventionally armed, deep attack weapon, launched from the air, produced by the European multinational rocket manufacturer MBDA.
“The French SCALP missile is really a joint development between Britain and France. And so many aspects related to the production and use of these missiles are unified. Figuratively, we have it can be said that the SCALP missile is an analogue of the British Storm Shadow,” said expert Yury Knutov.
Range of SCALP/Storm Shadow missile
“The only difference between SCALP and Storm Shadow is the range. The export version of the Storm Shadow has a range of about 300 km. The export version of the French missile has a range of about 250 km,” Knutov explained.
SCALP is powered by a jet engine with a speed of Mach 0.8 (987.8 km/h). It weighs 1300 kg including a conventional warhead weighing 450 kg. The length and diameter of the weapon are 5.10 meters and 0.63 m respectively with a wingspan of 3 m. Missiles cost about 3.19 million USD each.
How do SCALP and Storm Shadow work?
SCALP is a “fire and forget” rocket, meaning it is programmed before launch. Once launched, the rocket does not need to be controlled: it follows its path semi-automatically.
Closer to the target, the weapon climbs to a higher altitude to maximize its ability to penetrate the target. It eventually hit its target before the slow fuse detonated the main warhead.
“If we are talking about the combat purpose of these cruise missiles, then we should not forget that these are high-precision weapons,” Knutov said.
“The missile’s warhead weighs more than 400 kg and it is quite powerful. There are concrete-piercing variants with a special high-strength rod inside the rocket; along with explosives, it allows one to penetrate concrete. up to 1.5 meters thick. And most importantly, the accuracy of hitting these missiles is very high,” added the Russian expert.
Which fighter carries SCALP and Storm Shadows?
This weapon can be fitted on the Italian Tornado GR4, Tornado IDS, Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Mirage 2000 and Dassault Rafale aircraft. The missile was used by Britain, France and Italy in attacks in the Gulf, Iraq and Libya.
When it comes to Ukraine, it was previously reported that the country’s air force will use the Su-24 – a supersonic, all-weather tactical bomber developed in the Soviet Union – to Franco-British weapons launch.
Initially, photos published by Ukrainian media showed a Su-24 with a Storm Shadow mounted under a fixed pylon below the wing. Ukraine’s Su-24 fighter and Su-24MR reconnaissance aircraft have been modified to fire stealthy long-range missiles.
Can Russia intercept SCALP and Storm Shadow missiles?
According to Knutov, this missile is difficult to detect due to its extremely small radar cross-section (RCS). “That is, Storm Shadow and SCALP have a radar cross-section of 0.01 to 0.03 square meters, which is very small. However, Russian air defense is capable of detecting and destroying Storm Shadow/SCALP cruise missiles.” , Mr. Knutov emphasized.
The Ministry of Defense has repeatedly reported on the interception of stealthy French-British long-range missiles. Furthermore, the recent seizure of the Storm Shadow missile by Russian forces could prove valuable for studying ways to defeat this weapon.
The missile was shot down in the Zaporozhye area and remains mostly intact. Dissecting the missile can uncover its potential weaknesses and determine the optimal direction to strike the cruise missile with an interceptor.
“Once our military was able to capture such a cruise missile, we now have more opportunities to study it, identify composites for building the fuselage, process the homing head.” : the frequency at which it operates and the principle of its operation,” said Knutov.
According to military experts, that will allow Russia to improve its radar system and missile guidance station to better detect stealthy missiles.
He explained that it is very important to study the body of the missile, because Russian engineers will be able to see which range of radio waves transmitted by the missile is radio-transparent and which is reflected.
From there it is possible to create electronic warfare systems that more effectively impact the self-guided heads of both Storm Shadow and SCALP missiles.
“I think in the next month or two we will see that our air defenses will be more effective against Storm Shadow and SCALP. Furthermore, electronic warfare stations will be used. mainly, much cheaper than firing missiles to intercept these cruise missiles,” the expert added.
How many SCALP is France sending to Ukraine?
In his statement, French President Macron did not specify the number of missiles delivered to Ukraine, but Western media said France could deliver 50 SCALPs to Ukraine.
“If we are talking about 50 SCALP missiles, it should be remembered that it can be more than 50. Because now NATO is trying to help the Kyiv forces to break through the Russian defenses,” Knutov said.
Will SCALP make a difference on the Ukrainian battlefield?
The expert said NATO is sending longer-range missiles to hit targets deep in the Russian line, which is currently kept at a distance of more than 100 kilometers from the front line.
The US-made HIMARS is launching missiles with a range of 80 km, which is not enough in the eyes of NATO war planners to put pressure on the Russian Armed Forces.
NATO member states that send missiles with a range of 300 km, such as the Storm Shadow/SCALP (or potentially the US-made ATACMS), pose a certain challenge to the Russian military, the expert noted. .
“But it doesn’t matter, because the maximum it can affect is the duration of combat missions faced by Russian military units,” concluded Knutov.