|RAF Tornado GR4 integrated with 2 Storm Shadow missiles under belly UK MoD Copyright|
UK and France have jointly awarded MBDA a contract for mid-life refurbishment of the air-launched Storm Shadow/SCALP EG precision strike cruise missiles operated by the two countries.
The £146 ($179) million contract will extend the service life and capability of missile. The joint awarding will save £50 million for both the UK and France.
The program will involve refurbishing the Microturbo turbojet engine, upgrading the onboard navigation system and replacement of parts like cabling, seals and gaskets. The upgraded missile will undergo a series of flight trials in 2019.
The first refurbished missiles are expected to be returned to the French and UK armed forces by early 2020. Work will be carried out by MBDA UK and MBDA France in their respective country.
Called Storm Shadow in UK, and SCALP by France, the joint program began in 1996 and is based on the French developed Apache anti-runway cruise missile.
The stealthy standoff missile with an official range of 250+ km (RAF) can strike well defended targets like military facilities, control centers, bunkers, missile sites, airfields and bridges with precision.
It is can be equipped with the two-stage BROACH warhead to penetrate deep into a bunker or hardened military installations. The mid-life refurbishment will sustain the missile until it’s planned out of service date in 2032.
The program will guarantee French Air Force and the Navy the availability and operational effectiveness of the SCALP-EG missile for its Mirage 2000D and Rafale fighters beyond 2030.
The 1300 kg (2855 lb) missile spans 3 m and is 5.1 m long. After release, the wings deploy and the missile flies a terrain hugging path to evade enemy radar detection, before climbing to dive on to the target.
Storm Shadow/SCALP is operational with Tornado, Dassault Rafale, Dassault Mirage 2000 and Saab Gripen fighters. Integration trials with the RAF Eurofighter Typhoon are undergoing and are expected to be completed by this year.