British 'Storm Shadow' missile downed and captured by Russia

Images are making the rounds on social media that indicate that Russian forces have managed to bring down and capture a British "Storm Shadow" missile.
Christopher McFadden
Image of the downed missile.


Social media images show a partially intact, but downed, British "Storm Shadow" missile in Russian hands. Donated by the British to Ukraine, these are some of the most advanced cruise missiles. The capture of one, albeit mostly destroyed, would likely be a very real prize for Russian military intelligence.

The missiles are launched from Ukrainian Su-24 "Fencer" jets using launch pylons adapted from the now-retired RAF Tornados. It is widely believed that these are the longest-range offensive weapons Ukraine currently has in its arsenal.

The missile is relatively intact

The released images of the downed "Storm Shadow" show that it may have malfunctioned or been shot down by the enemy. The aircraft's rear fuselage remains mostly intact, and nearby are the BROACH penetrating tandem warhead and other vital components.

It is widely recognized that the potential danger of a "Storm Shadow" being acquired by Russia is a crucial consideration in the UK's choice to supply them to Ukraine. However, British authorities believed the benefits outweighed the risks with regard to Ukraine. It is thought that "Storm Shadows" are being employed to target high-value objectives located deep within Russian-controlled territory that are, likely, heavily fortified. For this reason, losing some of these weapons due to enemy fire and malfunction is unavoidable.

This missile's stealth capabilities minimize its visibility to enemy air defenses, particularly from the front. The materials and design principles employed in its construction are noteworthy, as is its warhead design. Its engine may be of some intelligence value, but its primary focus would be its advanced electronics, particularly its targeting system.

The "Storm Shadow'" navigation system uses a GPS/INS and terrain reference. However, during the terminal stage of its flight, it relies on a high-resolution imaging infrared (IIR) seeker equipped with automatic target recognition (ATR). The system matches imagery stored in its onboard memory to what it sees through its seeker as it makes its final attack run.

The onboard computing then accurately pinpoints the target to hit and the specific location to hit it. Remarkably, this system is fully autonomous, requiring no human intervention, and is highly accurate. Moreover, it can avoid accidental attacks on the wrong target and is impervious to radio frequency jamming and other forms of RF electronic warfare.

Russia could reverse engineer it now

If the sensor, alongside its accompanying onboard electronics and software, is retrieved in a non-destructed state, it could provide valuable insight into its capabilities and targeting methods, allowing for potential weaknesses to be identified and exploited. Furthermore, it may aid in advancing Russian systems, experts believe.

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