Analysis: What are Storm Shadow missiles capable of? How many are Britain sending to Ukraine? How much do they cost?
Russian forces were attacked in the occupied Ukrainian city of Luhansk on the morning of Monday 15 May 2023 in a suspected strike using British Storm Shadow long-range missiles.
The target was a former aviation school believed to be housing a contingent of Vladimir Putin’s troops.
Two explosions sounded at the makeshift barracks, with videos from the aftermath of the strike showing the building on fire and trailing thick plumes of smoke into the sky.
But what exactly are Storm Shadow missiles? How many Storm Shadow missiles does the UK have? How much does a Storm Shadow missile cost?
Here is everything you need to know about the British-owned long-range missiles.
What are Storm Shadow missiles?
The Storm Shadow missile was first developed in 1994, but was actually used by the French Ministry of Defence before also being used by Britain, with the French ordering 500 missiles in 1998.
The missile weighs approximately 1,300 kilograms (2,900lb), with a conventional warhead of 450 kilograms (990lb).
It has a maximum body diameter of 48 centimetres (19in) and a wingspan of three metres (120in).
The missiles were used for the first time operationally by UK forces in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, where they were tested by the Royal Air Force’s 617 Squadron.
Also known as SCALP-EG missiles, they were used during the NATO intervention of the Libyan Civil War in 2011.
Saudi Arabia were also supplied with Storm Shadows by the UK government as part of their involvement in the Yemen conflict.
How many Storm Shadow missiles does the UK have?
Most recently, Storm Shadow missiles have been recognised for their use by Ukraine in its ongoing conflict with Russia.
The supply of the missiles to Ukraine was confirmed by the UK government – which holds an estimated 700-1,000 Storm Shadows – in May 2023. It means Ukraine is the only country to be publicly supplied by the UK with these missiles.
The Storm Shadow missiles, accurate to beyond 150 miles, allow Ukrainian forces to strike deeper into Russian-held territory than was previously the case.
As a result, these missiles will play a key role in the country’s much anticipated counter-offensive against its occupiers.
This comes as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is set to push for more support for Kyiv when he attends the G7 gathering in Japan and the Council of Europe in Reykjavik.
The premier vowed to send a ‘message of solidarity’ as Ukraine tries to kick out Putin’s invading forces, saying it is in ‘all our interests’ that Zelensky succeeds.
The discussions came after the UK became the first country to provide long-range precision missiles to Ukraine.
How much does a Storm Shadow missile cost?
A Storm Shadow missile costs about £2.54million (US$3.19 million) per unit.
As a result of the attacks on Monday 15 May 2023, Russian MP Viktor Vodolatsky sustained minor injuries.
In its daily briefing, Russia’s defence ministry responded to the attacks by claiming its forces have managed to shoot down a Storm Shadow missile.
Volodymyr Zelensky travelled to the UK that same day to hold ‘substantive negotiations’ with the PM at his Chequers country residence.
Zelensky has already held talks with French president Emmanuel Macron following a summit in Aachen that saw EU commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, Poland’s PM Mateusz Morawiecki and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz all present.
Speaking to other MPs regarding the UK’s decision to send the long-range missiles to Ukraine, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace stated: ‘The use of Storm Shadow will allow Ukraine to push back Russian forces based within Ukrainian sovereign territory,’
‘Russia must recognise that their actions alone have led to such systems being provided.’