First French long-range missiles already in Ukraine

Context: France has already made a delivery of a number of SCALP long-range cruise missiles to Ukraine, a military source told after President Emmanuel Macron announced the supplies.

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Types of Missiles 

Ballistic Missiles 

Ballistic missiles are powered initially by a rocket or series of rockets in stages, but then follow an unpowered trajectory that arches upwards before descending to reach its intended target. Ballistic missiles can carry either nuclear or conventional warheads. 

There are four general classifications of ballistic missiles based on their range, or the maximum distance the missile can travel: 

  • Short-range: less than 1,000 kilometers (approximately 620 miles), also known as “tactical” ballistic missiles.
  • Medium-range: between 1,000 and 3,000 kilometers (approximately 620-1,860 miles), also known as “theater” ballistic missiles. 
  • Intermediate-range: between 3,000 and 5,500 kilometers (approximately 1,860-3,410 miles) 
  • Long-range: more than 5,500 kilometers (approximately 3,410 miles), also known as intercontinental or strategic ballistic missiles.
    • Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) can fly much further than the minimum range; for example, Russia could hit Chicago with an ICBM launched from the Krasnoyarsk ICBM base, which is located 9,156 kilometers (5,689miles) away.

Cruise Missiles

Cruise missiles are unmanned vehicles that are propelled by jet engines, much like an airplane. They can be launched from ground, air, or sea platforms. 

  • Cruise missiles remain within the atmosphere for the duration of their flight and can fly as low as a few meters off the ground. Flying low to the surface of the earth expends more fuel but makes a cruise missile very difficult to detect. 
  • Cruise missiles are self-guided and use multiple methods to accurately deliver their payload, including terrain mapping, global positioning systems (GPS) and inertial guidance, which uses motion sensors and gyroscopes to keep the missile on a pre-programmed flight path. 
  • As advanced cruise missiles approach their target, remote operators can use a camera in the nose of the missile to see what the missile sees. This gives them the option to manually guide the missile to its target or to abort the strike.

Storm Shadow Cruise missile aka SCALP long-range cruise missiles  

Storm Shadow is a long-ranged, air-launched, conventionally armed, deep-strike supersonic missile, which is manufactured by the France-based MBDA Missile Systems. 

  • Range: More than 250 km.
  • It is capable of being operated day and night in all weathers and is designed to destroy high-valued stationary targets such as airbases, radar installations, communications hubs and port facilities
  • It is equipped with fire-and-forget technology and offers high-precision deep strike capability as it features a sophisticated navigation system that includes inertial navigation (INS), a global positioning system (GPS) and terrain reference navigation for better control over the path. 

The missile features the BROACH (Bomb Royal Ordnance Augmented Charge) warhead — a high-technology warhead, which first cuts the surface of the target, penetrates into it and then explodes.

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