The United Kingdom has approved the transfer of the Storm Shadow long-range missile to Ukraine, thus achieving a major milestone in security aid to the embattled country.
In the Storm Shadow missile, the Ukrainian forces are getting an invaluable weapon system that could change the war.
This, of course, is on top of billions of dollars in military aid that Ukraine has received since February of last year.
The Storm Shadow Missile
The Storm Shadow is a low-observable air-launched cruise missile with a range of almost 200 miles.
The weapon’s range is comparable to the MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS). A ground-launched munition that can strike targets up to 190 miles, the MGM-140 ATACMS is launched from the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) or the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS).
The munition’s range makes it the weapon system with the longest range in Ukrainian service. F
or comparison, the game-changing M142 HIMARS can reach targets up to 60 miles with the current missiles provided to Ukraine.
Ever since the United States approved the transfer of the M142 HIMARS and M270 MLRS to Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his government have repeatedly asked for munition with longer ranges.
Kyiv has been particularly enamored with the MGM-140 ATACMS. But the U.S. won’t budge and provide the long-range munition to the Ukrainians out of fear of further provoking Moscow and because it has limited stocks.
The Ukrainian Air Force has modified its Su-24 Fencer, Mig-29 Fulcrum, and Su-27 Flanker attack and fighter jets to carry the Storm Shadow. According to British Secretary Ben Wallace, the Ukrainian military has already used the weapon system in combat.
The Storm Shadow Effect
Moreover, the Storm Shadow will likely play an important role in the upcoming large-scale Ukrainian counteroffensive. The long-range munition can reach every Russian soldier and tank within Ukraine. Also, the Storm Shadow can strike targets way behind the frontlines and thus put pressure on the Russian logistical lines.
The Russian military will likely struggle to adjust at the beginning. Moscow had a difficult time adjusting to the introduction of the M142 HIMARS and M270 MLRS last summer. For months, the Ukrainians were able to take out Russian logistical nodes with extreme ease before the Russians adjusted to the threat.
Indeed, the Storm Shadow munition has the potential to be game-changing on the ground. For example, a handful of well-aimed Storm Shadows could disable the Kerch Bridge that connects the Crimean Peninsula with Russia. Last year, the Ukrainian intelligence services tried to take out the bridge and cut a key supply route of the Russian garrison in Crimea with sabotage.
Although the attack was successful and restricted the flow of supplies from Russia, the Kremlin quickly repaired the bridge. And there are plenty of logistical targets, including oil depots, ports, bridges, roads, and ammunition dumps, within the Crimean Peninsula that are on the top of the Ukrainian target deck.
In addition, the Storm Shadow is designed to operate in contested environments and against advanced enemy air defenses.
A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. He is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Strategy, Cybersecurity, and Intelligence at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.