Russia continues to make statements about the long-range Storm Shadow “fire-and-forget” air-to-surface missiles delivered to Ukraine. Various proposals are already being heard, some logical, some quite dangerous.
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For example, Alexey Zhuravlev, a Russian politician from the State Duma proposes that air defense systems leave the Russian border and be deployed primarily by politicians, Russian air defense systems should be moved away from the Russian borders to the range of these missiles. Zhuravlev also said that as long as the range of the British missile is at such a distance, the Ukrainian troops should be pushed from the Russian border.
There were also the first suggestions that Russia would “strike” Western Ukraine. “The supply route must be cut”, is the reason for such a request from Mikhail Shermet, a Russian deputy from the State Duma.
However, other comments are less concerned about Storm Shadow’s effectiveness. Russia has already shot down more than one Storm Shadow missile in Syria. At the same time, the Russian forces did not use the S-400 or S-300, but the BUK and TOR mobile air defense systems. Alexei Leonkov, a military expert, reminded both Ukraine and Britain of this fact.
He even indicated a specific date – April 14, 2018. Then a missile attack begins over Damascus. Leonkov recalled that it was on this day that Russian anti-aircraft missile systems first faced Storm Shadow.
Leonkov makes a very important explanation – the rocket cannot change its route. I.e. it follows the target along a predetermined route. Not only can this route be predicted, but the missile can be intercepted and tracked all along the way.
As we already wrote, Storm Shadow is an air-launched missile. The Ukrainian MiG-29 and Su-25 cannot carry this missile because it alone exceeds the payload weight. But Su-24 and Su-24 are capable of carrying it.
At this time, there is no officially confirmed information that one of the two combat aircraft has received integration to program the missile, but there are assumptions based on information from on-site and open sources. This means that the missile has to be programmed on the ground, then launched from the air. Storm Shadow allows for similar programming.
The first reports have already appeared that Storm Shadow has hit a target – a factory in Luhansk. In fact, it is quite possible that the delivery of the missile[s] took place long before the announced date. This is an important clarification because, according to the announcement, the missile was launched by a Su-24 bomber of the Ukrainian Air Force.
Can the Su-24 be so quickly integrated with the ability to program the missile? No, but this integration didn’t happen in the last 24 hours, but at least five months ago. Back in February, we informed that Ukraine will receive these missiles. Our information is based on tracking specific actions in Poland. It was there that Ukraine sent the Su-24 to be integrated with programming capabilities and this happened in December 2022. There is even information that the missile was then already tested on how to communicate with the Ukrainian bomber.
Going back to the comment of the Russian military expert Leonkov in 2018 over Syria, Russian air defense systems shot down at least 71 Western-made missiles. Not all of them are Storm Shadow, says the Russian, recalling that the Tomahawk has also been involved in attacks over Syria and is also among the downed missiles.
Let him recall what Russia had deployed around Damascus in April 2018. This will give an indication of what can be deployed in Ukraine today. In 2018, the Russians deployed Russian-made surface-to-air missiles, including the S-125, S-200, 2K12 Kub, and Buk, around the Syrian capital to repel attacks.
However, according to Leonkov, the Russian armed forces will have problems with the Storm Shadow if the Ukrainians change the height of the missile’s flight. For example, if it flies at a low altitude, it becomes almost invisible to the scanning radars of large air defense systems, whose purpose is to intercept such missiles.
Leonkov emphasized that in recent weeks, the presence of drones has been activated in the Kaluga and Ryazan regions. Some of them manage to hit the target, while others are shot down. But Leonkov believes that these drones were sent to test the route to wipe out Storm Shadow. If the Ukrainians follow this route, they have a chance to hit the Russian target, the expert believes because although the route will be known, the missile will be hidden from radars due to the height of the flight.
But despite Storm Shadow’s barely visible form, there are experts, the Russian military, who believe their air defenses will intercept and destroy them.
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