For several months, Ukraine has been using Storm Shadow—which can hit targets more than 150 miles away with pinpoint accuracy—to blow up Russian military supplies and infrastructure that were out of reach of Kiev until recently. The missile is so accurate that in its first use, during the 2003 Gulf War, a Storm Shadow blew a hole in the side of a building, and then another missile fired through the same hole.
Now, Kiev could be set to receive American long-range missiles, as officials in Washington seek approval at the highest level to send a US system to Ukraine and escalate its continued offensive. The system, the Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS, has a range of about 190 miles. Washington has not sent it so far out of fear that Ukraine could use truck-launched rockets to attack Russian territory and escalate the conflict into a wider war.
Ukraine’s use of Storm Shadow in recent weeks indicates it has multiple targets to strike in Russian-occupied parts of the country.
The Storm Shadow, which entered Ukrainian service in May, is completing a mission that Ukraine accomplished last year with the US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, a truck with a maximum strike range of 50 miles. -based weapon. Like the Hymers, which forced Russia to pull supplies and bases back from the front line to avoid being hit, Storm Shadow is forcing Moscow to rethink its logistics as Ukraine intensifies its offensive. Is.
Russian officials said in June Ukraine used Storm Shadows to damage a bridge Russia relied on to supply its troops in the Kherson and Zaporizhia regions. Days earlier, a missile destroyed a large Russian ammunition depot near the village of Rykov, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Like HIMARS, Storm Shadow appears to have a psychological effect on Russian forces and civilians. Footage of the ammunition-dump attack on social media showed a series of explosions amid massive fires and plumes of black smoke billowing across farm fields. A woman watching the destruction said on the recording, “This is the end.”
Official Russian press and social-media channels have reported how Storm Shadow, due to its long reach, targeted buildings in occupied parts of Ukraine and even killed a Russian general.
Doug Bush, the US military’s acquisition chief, said Ukraine was using the weapon “very effectively”. Bush said that the Ukrainian military has been very good at combining intelligence data with high-precision, long-range strikes and its ability to “penetrate inside” Russia. Move your weapons and ammunition stockpile.
Ukrainian officials agree. In May, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov told a local TV station that the missile had a 100% success rate in hitting its intended target. An official stationed by Russia in occupied Ukraine told Russian state news agency TASS that it was difficult to shoot down.
Britain has been at the forefront of supplying arms to Ukraine. It sent antitank missiles before Russia launched a large-scale invasion last year, and London’s decision earlier this year to send its Challenger 2 tanks – the first initiative to send modern Western battle tanks to Ukraine – has drawn flak from the US and other allies. also inspired to follow it.
France, which makes a twin version of the missile called the Scalp, said it is considering sending longer-range missiles.
Germany is holding off on supplying the long-range missiles because of concerns over Russian tensions and because the country needs a smaller inventory of such weapons to defend itself, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Britain has not said how many storm shadows it has sent. Defense intelligence company Jens estimated that Britain had around 822 Storm Shadows in its arsenal before the start of the war.
The cost of the weapons could limit how many weapons Britain’s cash-strapped Defense Ministry can send. In 2011, the Royal Air Force told the UK Parliament that the cost of each Storm Shadow is the equivalent of more than $1 million today.
However, defense experts say that its existence in Ukraine’s arsenal, no matter how many, would be enough to force Russia to move its supply chain away from the front line.
“It puts many of Russia’s vital dependencies at risk: fuel, ammunition dumps, command and control bunkers and other high-value targets,” wrote Jack Watling, senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based think tank. In a paper on arms.
Storm Shadow and Scalp are manufactured by MBDA, a British-French-Italian company. They use a mix of guidance systems that help them avoid enemy jams, maneuver and reach their targets. Ukraine is launching the missile from Sukhoi fighter jets, the first time it has been carried by a non-Western aircraft.
Unlike the better known US Tomahawk cruise missiles, which are often fired in large salvos, Storm Shadows are designed to be fired in small numbers to hit very specific targets, such as the ones Ukraine has focused on. Have done It can be set for delayed detonation, allowing it to penetrate a fortification or building and detonate only once inside, giving it a better chance of hitting human targets such as soldiers or military officers.
According to a person involved in the missile’s development, this capability is linked to a challenge the designers set for themselves: allowing military planners to take advantage of potential intelligence, such as word that Iraqi dictator Hussein was out of one of his palaces. One was in a bathroom inside.
“It excels at fixed targets over the horizon,” said Ian Williams, an expert on missile technology at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank.
—Bojan Panczewski contributed to this article.
Write to Alistair MacDonald at Alisair.Macdonald@wsj.com and Daniel Michaels at Dan.Michaels@wsj.com.