Storm Shadow / SCALP EG Cruise Missile


Storm Shadow / SCALP EG is an advanced, conventionally armed cruise missiles currently operational with the RAF and French Air Force. It is optimized for pre-planned attacks on static targets, whose positions are accurately known before the mission. (bridges, airbases, radar installations, communications hubs, port facilities, bunkers etc.) With long-range and efficient stealth design, Storm Shadow can eliminate strategic components of enemy defensive systems, without risking manned aircraft. The missile weighs 1,300 kg and is powered by a turbojet engine, offering mission range in excess of 250km The missile is equipped with the BROACH (Bomb Royal Ordnance Augmented Charge) unitary warhead for maximum effect against hard targets.

Since the missile flies at subsonic, and at very low altitudes, the selection of ingress rotes is extremely important, to avoid most of the enemy threats. The missile can be launched from low or medium altitude, and descend to its optimum low-level cruising altitude to avoid radar detection. Navigation is fully autonomous, incorporating digital TERPROM (TERrain PROfile Matching) aided by GPS and inertial sensors.

Terminal guidance uses the passive imaging infra-red (IIR) sensor with Autonomous Target Recognition (ATR) system. On its terminal phase, as it approaches the target, the missile is positioned where it will be able to positively locate the target and identify the specific points where it should strike. At the terminal phase of its flight the missile climbs to a medium altitude, jettison its nose cap to enable the IIR seeker to view the target. As the seeker acquires the target and compare it with files stored in its memory, the aim point is identified and tracked and is used as the reference for the missile terminal guidance.

The target acquisition process is constantly repeated with a higher resolution data set to refine the aim point, as the missile closes in on the target. Tracking will continue against this refined aim point until the precise target location is identified. On impact, the missile should be positioned at the optimum dive angle selected during mission planning. The Broach warhead activated with a precursor charge perforating the target structure, and any soil covering, and the follow through penetrator warhead continue to penetrate inside the target and detonated after a pre-selectable delay.

The missile is also equipped with an “abort” mechanism, which is initiated if conditions for potential high collateral damage are expected. In such situation, the mission will be aborted if the target identification and acquisition process is unsuccessful. In this case the missile will fly to a predetermined crash site.

To support Storm Shadow / SCALP EG missions, complex and pre-determined missions require such information to be prepared well in advance at the Command Headquarters. Following an Air Tasking Order, the operating squadron prepares the mission data file with the pre-planned data, together with the latest operational intelligence. The flight path of the missile is planned before the mission on a dedicated system which supports up to 16 missiles. This capability enables the pilot to launch the missile from a relatively wide “window”, which does not expose him to risk of detection and engagement with enemy air defenses. The missile is launched as a “fire and forget” weapon, representing minimum additional workload for the air crew of two-seater and single-seat aircraft.

Storm Shadow is currently operational with RAF Tornado GR4 aircraft and French Mirage 2000D aircraft. It is cleared for the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale as well as Mirage 2000-B2 Mk2 aircraft and designed to be compatible with the F-35 JSF. Around 30 missiles were deployed by 617 “Dambusters” squadron in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 against high-value, heavily fortified targets such as communications bunkers, with great success. Further deployment of the missile is planned with the Typhoon (Eurofighter). The Scalp EG version is operational with French Air Force Mirage 2000D and Rafaele aircraft and is planned for deployment with the Naval version of the Rafale, deployed on the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier. Italy and Greece ordered the Scalp EG for Italian Tornados and Greek Mirage 2000-5 Mk2. The UAE ordered the missile variant designated Black Shaheen.

Recent enhancements of the Storm Shadow / SCALP EG include the capability to relay target information just before impact, utilization of one-way (link-back) datalink, to relay battle damage assessment information back to the host aircraft. This upgrade is already under development under a French DGA contract. Another feature planned for insertion into the weapon is in-flight retargeting capability, utilizing a two-way datalink. Future derivatives of the missile are the naval surface and submarine launched versions. These vertically launched land attack missiles will have high commonality with the air launched version, and equip the future FREMM frigates and fleet of Barracuda class submarines of the French Navy. The Naval derivative of the Storm Shadow / SCALP EG is scheduled to enter production in 2006.

Saudi Arabia will equip its Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft with standoff, MBDA Storm Shadow precision attack weapons. The weapons package ordered for the RSAF will also include the Brimstone anti-armor missile. For the air-to-air role the Saudis opted for the IRIS-T short range AAM, from Diehl BGT Defence, this missile is also being used by the German Air Force. According to news sources, the weapons package for the Typhoons could be worth over $1.8 billion.