The Scalp missile aka “the storm shadow missile” is a long-range cruise missile that is developed by a European defense company MBDA systems. Recently, the Indian Air Force released images of its newly inducted fighter aircraft Dassault Rafale carrying the new generation air to surface stealth cruise missile.
The Scalp missile is considered a stealthy missile as it is designed to fly at low levels to reduce the chances of radar detection. With the help of imaging infrared seeker, it can match the image of the target with its databases that ensures accuracy, precision and strike validation. It uses combination of autonomous guidance and navigation systems such as GPS, inertial navigation and terrain reference. This combination of systems enhances the maneuvering capabilities and allows it to loiter around the structures such as buildings and hills that comes in its scheduled path.
Furthermore, this missile is fitted with a two-stage BROACH (Bomb Royal Ordnance Augmented Charge) blast/penetrator blast. The first stage of the warhead cuts the surface of the target to make the way for the second warhead then the second warhead penetrates into the target and detonates.
Dassault Rafale can carry two scalp missiles along with three fuel tanks in a long-range attack configuration. Once this fire & forget missile is launched from the fighter aircraft, it comes down to 130 feet from the ground in a terrain hugging role to avoid detection by the enemy’s radar and jamming systems. Before hitting the target, the scalp missile then again goes up to a height of 6000 meters to drop itself perpendicularly on the high-value stationary targets such as airbases, radar installations, and port facilities, and so on. It is capable of precisely engaging the target in any weather conditions.
As you can see in the picture, the Scalp missile is being carried by the IAF’s Rafale on its centerline pylon along with four MICA air to air missiles and two external fuel tanks. This missile allows the aircraft to destroy the targets located at high plateaus and mountainous regions located at 5600 meters. Earlier, the range was limited to 2500 meters but the missile’s software was modified by the company after the consultation with the top brass of the IAF.
Recently, the Storm shadow cruise missile has been used by RAF’s Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 in ‘Operation Shader’ to attack ISIS militants who were hiding in the caves in a remote part of northern Iraq. (Hyperlink) According to some reports, Saudi Arabia also used the Storm Shadow missile in a mission against the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Apart from India, eight other countries are also using the Storm Shadow missile. India is getting these missiles as a part of the overall package under Rafale deal between India and France. Hopefully, Scalp missile will give an upper edge to IAF to conduct Balakot airstrikes like operations in near future.