The Ukrainian Armed Forces adopted new strategies with the Storm Shadow missile against Russian targets, while the Russian defense quickly adapted its responses.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces [FAU] adapt their tactics in missile attacks aimed at Russian territory. One of the innovations has been the introduction of decoys alongside the Storm Shadow missiles, simulating air assault weapons. However, Russian defense units have managed to identify genuine threats and intercept them properly. Military analyst Alexei Leonkov revealed this information in a conversation with Izvestia.
“When the Storm Shadow missile was first introduced, Ukrainian troops demonstrated cunning tactics. In the attack on Luhansk, these cruise missiles were integrated into a flow of aerial weapons, representing an unexpected challenge. As a result, some Storm Shadow missiles hit Lugansk. But, after a detailed analysis, we implemented corrective actions,” Leonkov explained.
Leonkov’s response was given within the framework of a report on the attack on Sevastopol on October 30, provided by Izvestia informants. The document indicated that four Ukrainian aircraft led the assault, launching two Storm Shadow missiles each. In addition, different decoys were activated from the ground that imitated cruise missiles.
The Ukrainian plane operated at the limit of its autonomy, seeking to evade quickly at a very low altitude. Russian air defense systems immediately detected the missile launch, also correctly distinguishing the decoys.
On June 12, an unfortunate event occurred when Major General Sergey Goryachev, at the time Chief of Staff of the 35th Combined Arms Army, lost his life in Zaporizhzhia Oblast due to a Storm Shadow missile attack.
Subsequently, on June 22, an operation was carried out targeting the Chonhar highway bridge, a vital connection between Crimea and the Kherson oblast. The strategic purpose of the Storm Shadow was to disrupt Russian logistics.
In early July, Zaporizhzhia was the scene of an unusual event: a Storm Shadow missile hit but remained almost intact. Russian troops claimed to have shot it down and seized the remains for detailed analysis to better understand the missile and develop defensive measures.
On July 29, 2023, there was a Storm Shadow attack on the Chongar Strait railway bridge, a vital connection between Crimea and Kherson. The missile hit exactly between the access routes to the bridge.
The last recorded event occurred on September 13, 2023, with a coordinated attack using Storm Shadows on the port of Sevastopol, severely damaging the submarine Rostov na Donu and possibly disabling the Ropucha-class landing ship, the Minsk, according to reports.
On September 22, 2023, the city of Sevastopol was attacked again. On this occasion, three Storm Shadow missiles directly hit the Black Sea Fleet headquarters. Information from Ukrainian military sources indicates that this attack was aimed at a strategic meeting of senior officers of the Russian Navy.
The consequences of this attack were devastating. “34 officers, including the fleet commander, lost their lives due to this cruel attack on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet,” sources confirmed. In addition, around 100 Russian servicemen were injured.
The United Kingdom had previously confirmed, on May 11, 2023, that it provided Storm Shadow missiles to the Ukrainian defense forces. This action was in line with a commitment announced in February 2023, in which they promised to provide long-range missile support in response to Russia’s targeted attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure.
Despite this support, the Ukrainian authorities have assured that they have no intentions of using these missiles on Russian territory. In this regard, Ben Wallace, UK Defense Minister, described the delivery of missiles as a “tactical measure in response to the increase” in Russian hostilities. He alluded to incorporating high-range Russian weaponry, such as the Kh-47M2 hypersonic missile, the 3M-54 Kalibr cruise missile and the Shahed-136 drone.
The Storm Shadow cruise missile, also known as SCALP EG, is a long-range precision weaponry. It is primarily employed by the air forces of France, Italy and the United Kingdom, designed to hit high-importance targets with extreme precision.
The Storm Shadow stands out for its operational range, which exceeds 250 kilometers [155 miles], allowing it to be launched from a safe distance. In addition, it has a notable stealth capability designed to evade enemy radar systems.
As for its guidance system, it combines inertial navigation, GPS and terrain reference navigation, guaranteeing impeccable aim. Its warhead is explosive fragmentation, weighing 450 kilograms [990 pounds], with the capacity to penetrate reinforced constructions and cause significant damage upon detonation. Finally, the missile has a bidirectional data link, allowing updates in mid-flight, which reinforces its precision and adaptability in missions.