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BBC Notes: UK, France Haven’t Explicitly Restricted Ukrainian Use of Storm Shadow/SCALP Missiles

The BBC, in a report the other day, entitled “Will using Western weapons on Russia help Ukraine change the war?” reports that the UK and France, which provide Ukraine with jointly made Storm Shadow/SCALP air-launched cruise missiles, haven’t explicitly restricted their use. And their range can go up to 250 km. In fact, French President Emanuel Macron told journalists last week: “We should allow [Ukraine] to neutralise the military sites from which the missiles are fired and, basically, the military sites from which Ukraine is attacked.”

And such rhetoric is seen as permission to use Storm Shadows/Scalps, according to a military aviation officer (who preferred to remain anonymous) cited by the BBC. So, he says, Ukraine can now hit airfields in the Kursk and Belgorod regions that border Ukraine.

However, he explained that, at present, such operations will be limited in terms of what they can achieve. Ukrainian Su-24s that are equipped with these cruise missiles will have to get close to the Russian border in order to launch them, which makes them vulnerable to Russian air defence systems. The BBC is likely referring to the fact that these old Soviet-era aircraft that the Ukrainian air force is presently flying don’t have the NATO-standard targeting computers and data connections that are required to employ these missiles to their full capability. That problem goes away once the promised F-16’s arrive in Ukraine.