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Media: How France organizes the delivery of Scalp missiles to Ukraine

France recycles decommissioned Scalp missiles by refurbishing them inexpensively for transfer to Ukrainian forces combating Russia’s invasion.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy writing “Glory to Ukraine” on a Scalp-EG missile under the wing of an SU-24 on 6 August 2023. Photo: Ukrainian President’s press service
Media: How France organizes the delivery of Scalp missiles to Ukraine

RFI reports that France has implemented a covert operation codenamed “Chrysalide” to supply Ukraine with Scalp-EG cruise missiles in its fight against Russian invasion. Scalp is the French variant of the Anglo-French missile, better known in Ukraine under its British name, Storm Shadow.

Initial Scalp/Storm Shadow deliveries in 2023’s second half proved instrumental against Russian targets. Strikes crippled Black Sea naval assets like the Kilo-class submarine Rostov-na-Donu, enabling Ukraine to secure coastal maritime corridors to export its grain by sea. Inland, the Scalp’s bunker-busting capabilities neutralized deeply-entrenched Russian logistics and command hubs unreachable by other Ukrainian ordnance.

The scheme repurposes decommissioned Scalp missiles, some reaching end-of-life and others cannibalized for parts, through an affordable refurbishing process.

Older missiles unfit for service are shipped to Matra BAE Dynamics Aérospatiale’s Bourges facility, where they undergo a three-month overhaul to restore functionality through replacement components and rigorous testing. This streamlined “consumer” approach, not treating the missiles for long-term storage, reduces costs to a quarter of brand-new Scalps.

The revamped missiles augment Ukraine’s firepower without impacting French strategic stocks. France also explores other armament sources like export-variant Scalps nearing expiry from foreign clients. While requiring software modifications for Ukrainian compatibility, direct transfers reimbursed by new missile purchases remain the ideal scenario.

The missile, capable of traveling 300 km, can penetrate several meters into concrete to locate a cavity where its 450 kg charge detonates. Its precision allows it to create an entry point for a subsequent missile. Additionally, equipped with inertial and visual navigation systems, it can operate in GPS-denied environments. It also deploys decoys to distract enemy ground-air defenses, enhancing its ability to breach deep into enemy systems.

RFI says French official are looking for all kinds of munitions for Ukraine: Scalps, 155mm shells for artillery, and ground-to-air weapons for the defense of the Ukrainian skies.

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