According to an article in the French newspaper Le Monde published this morning, French President Emmanuel Macron has reported a new decision by his government: the delivery of long-range Scalp missiles to Ukraine. This announcement comes after the UK decided to provide air-to-surface guided missiles to Ukraine for long-distance strikes against fixed targets.

President Macron underlined France’s commitment to support Ukraine and strengthen NATO unity upon arrival at the summit. He stated: “We have decided to deliver new missiles capable of deep strikes to Ukraine. Today, what is important for us is to send a message of support to Ukraine and affirm the unity of NATO.”

France’s decision to supply Ukraine with long-range scalp missiles is significant, as it marks a change in position. Until now, France had excluded this possibility due to its concern about the possible use of these missiles on Russian territory. However, the UK has already delivered Storm Shadows missiles to Ukraine.

This announcement reinforces the cooperation between France and Ukraine in the defense sector. Long-range Scalp missiles are known for their precision and ability to hit distant targets, giving Ukraine a greater ability to strike strategic locations in Russia.

Since their introduction in 2003, Scalp air-to-surface missiles have become essential to military operations. Jointly developed by France and the UK, these missiles have been used extensively in various conflicts around the world.

Matra BAe Dynamics designed scalp missiles between 1994 and 2001 and are currently manufactured by MBDA. They have proven their effectiveness in various wars, including the Iraq war, the 2011 military intervention in Libya, the US-led intervention in the Syrian civil war, the Yemeni civil war, and the Russo-Ukrainian war.

Weighing 1,300 kg, the long-range missiles measure 5.1 m long, 630 mm wide and 480 mm high. They have a wingspan of 3 m (9 ft 10 in). The warhead is fitted with a 450 kilograms (990 lb) BROACH multistage penetrating warhead.

Scalp missiles are powered by a Microturbo TRI 60-30 turbojet engine, providing 5.4 kN (1,200 lb) thrust. They can reach a top speed of Mach 0.95 (323 m/s; 1,060 ft/s) and have an operational range of 550 km (300 mi; 340 mi).

These missiles have an advanced guidance system that includes GPS, INS (inertial navigation system), IIR (infrared imaging) and TERPROM (terrain profile adaptation). The steering system consists of six tailplanes (four vertical and two horizontal).

Scalp missiles can be carried by various combat aircraft, such as the Mirage 2000, Rafale, Su-24, Tornado, and Typhoon. Their versatility and ability to engage ground targets make them a valuable asset to the French and British air forces.

The Kremlin has already expressed its disagreement with the delivery of French long-range missiles to Ukraine. According to statements by the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, this decision is considered a “mistake” that will force Russia to take “countermeasures” in the Ukraine conflict.

The participation of scalp missiles in numerous conflicts demonstrates their effectiveness and strategic importance on the battlefield. With their long range, accuracy, and penetrating power, these missiles continue to play a crucial role in modern military operations. France’s decision to hand over these missiles sends a clear message about NATO’s commitment to supporting Ukraine. As the NATO summit progresses, further measures to strengthen collective defense are likely to be discussed.

Alain Henry de Frahan