Author Topic: Cruise Missiles for Ukraine?  (Read 315 times)

Offline apophenia

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Cruise Missiles for Ukraine?
« on: June 04, 2023, 08:58:37 AM »
Ukraine: Storm Shadow, SCALP EG, and other LRMs?

Along with other, longer-range munitions, the UK's supply of Storm Shadow conventional cruise missiles to Ukraine seems to be 'game-changer' (I know, wildly over-used term!). But Ukraine is running through their stocks of Storm Shadow quite quickly. (That's not a bad thing - why not gain maximum effect while the 'new' capability is still catching RU off guard.) One question is, how to replenish UA stocks once these first Storm Shadows are expended?

Prior to delivery to Ukraine, the NATO expenditures of Storm Shadow/SCALP EG were:

2011 NATO intervention in Libya = AdA 15 x SCALP EG; AM 25 x SCALP/Storm Shadow; and RAF ~60 x Storm Shadow = Sub-total ~100 missiles expended

2014 NATO intervention against ISIL in Syria = AdA 12 x SCALP EG; and RAF 4 x Storm Shadow = Sub-total 16 missiles expended.

Total Storm Shadow/SCALP EG delivered were between 1,400 and 1,700 missiles. [1] So, without records for any Storm Shadows or SCALP EGs expended in tests or training and an operational expenditure of 116 missiles, we have a maximum remaining inventory of beween 1,284 and 1,584 missiles - less, of course, the "multiple" Storm Shadows delivered to Ukraine by the UK. [2]

The UK

From the above, Britain is the most probable source of replacement missiles for Ukraine. But, thus far, the UK government's pattern has been to donate major British equipment mainly as a nudge to its allies to match them. So, what is the likelihood of cruise missiles being donated by other NATO members?


Italy tends to make the slightest details of its weapon donations to Ukraine classified. As a result, there is no way to know if Italy has donated any of its remaining SCALP/Storm Shadows to UA. However, in the vague lists that Difensa does publish, there is no mention of 'cruise missiles' that I'm aware of.


In May 2023, Président Macron said that France will provide Ukraine with SCALP EGs. So far, no details about numbers or dates. Around the same time as Macron's SCALP EG promise, the French flip-flopped on pledges to supply fighters - likely retired Mirage 2000Cs. Those may have been intended as SCALP EG launch platforms - although the AdA uses still-in-service, 2-seat Mirage 2000Ds as their SCALP EG platforms.

Perhaps French SCALP EGs, if and when they arrive in Ukraine, will simply take up where the by-then exhausted stocks of Storm Shadows left off? That leaves UA pulling Su-24s from their boneyards for refurbishment as launch platforms.

Germany and Spain

Another two NATO members employ the similar Taurus (MBDA/Saab) KEPD 350 cruise missile. Some 600 x KEPD 350 have been in Luftwaffe service since 2010 (but, according to The Drive, only 150 of these Taurus missiles are kept at operational readiness at any given time). By 2010, Spain's EA had 43 KEPD 350s - a number small enough to ignore here. (The other KEPD 350 operator is the ROKAF with x 260.) [3]

What makes KEPD 350 different from Storm Shadow is that the latter is for use against fixed or stationary targets. The Taurus missile was originally intended primarily as an anti-ship missile ... so at least large moving targets are on the menu. No surprise, then,  that Ukraine requested a supply of KEPD 350s from Germany in May 2023. There are supporters for this within the Bundestag - both opposition CDU and coalition FDP - but Boris Pistorius has been characteristically cautious in his responses to questions.

Part of what makes the Taurus KEPD 350 interesting in this context is that the German carriers were Panavia Tornado IDS which are now being phased-out of Luftwaffe service. Were the Germans (or maybe just SPD which dominates the current coalition) to change tack and supply both strike aircraft and cruise missiles, those ex-Luftwaffe IDS could accommodate either KEPD 350s or Storm Shadows with minor adjustments.

Anything/Anybody Else?

So, what have I missed? Are there any other candidate systems or potential suppliers of small cruise missiles to Ukraine?

Any other thoughts or comments.


[1] The UK ordered ~700-to-1,000 x Storm Shadows; Italy ordered 200 x SCALP/Storm Shadow (they seem to use both terms); while France ordered 500 x SCALP EG. It should also be noted that, at the same time, France also ordered 120 x closely-related APACHE AP anti-runway missiles.

[2] I'm ignoring Greek SCALP EGs here. First, the Greeks are unlikely to donate fully modern weaponry to UA. Second, in May, Greece signed a SCALP mid-life refurb contract with MBDA. Obviously, the Hellenic Air Force intends to have SCALP in service for some time yet.

[3] I mention South Korea only for completeness. To send ex-ROKAF KEPD 350s to Ukraine would require changes to South Korea's current export control rules on sending lethal aid into active war zones. It'd be great if that happened but I'm not holding my breath.
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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Cruise Missiles for Ukraine?
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2023, 03:16:02 AM »
Some options:

AGM-158 JASSM And AGM-158B JASSM-ER - apart form US service these are also in service with the likes of Australia, Finland and Poland and thus could potentially be offered

AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER - while not as long ranged, this could still provide a useful stand-off capability

RBS 15 - especially some of the longer ranged latter variants.

Delilah - though good luck getting Israel to release

BrahMos - though good luck getting India to release

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Offline apophenia

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Re: Cruise Missiles for Ukraine?
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2023, 06:25:53 AM »
All great candidates. As you say, gaining access to such missiles is the politically tricky bit.

With the current attitudes of the Biden Administration and the Pentagon - especially towards the supply of 300 km ATACMS - I'd say that JASSM and JASSM-ER (with 370 and 925 km ranges) are off the table. But SLAM-ER has slightly less range than ATACMS (250 km) so ... maybe?

Delilah has about the same range as SLAM-ER. The missiles have been around since grunge began to fade but are still used for SEAD against Syria. At any rate, as you said, "good luck" convincing 'Bibi' et al to provide UA with Delilah.

BrahMos: Yep, even less chance of that.

So, that leaves RBS 15. I'm not sure where FMV is at in deploying the next-gen Gungnir. If those RBS 15 Mk 4s are in service, then the >200 km range RBS 15 Mk.IIIs should be available. One concern is that the Mk.IIIs were co-developed by Saab Bofors and Diehl. Would that mean that Bundestag approval would be needed for transfer to UA? 'Cuz we know how long that can take  :P

Somewhat related is the distinctly Finnish RBS-15 SF variant aka MTO-85 (Meritorjuntaohjus 85 or anti-ship missile 85). The Merivoimat is in the process of replacing MTO-85 with IAI Gabriel V as the PTO 2020. Most MTO-85 were mounted on Hamina and Rauma class missile boats. But some were with truck-launched anti-ship missile batteries ... but would the Finns be willing to give up their Sisu SK242 launch vehicles (or will those 8x8 trucks be repurposed for ground-launched Gabriel?) Either way, MTO-85s have a maximum range of only around 100 km.

That shorter range brings up a host of anti-shipping missiles (eg: Marte ER) but, for cruise missiles, UA needs range more than anything else right now.
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