Storm Shadow Missile

Storm Shadow is the RAF's long range stand-off precision guided cruise missile, due to be replaced by the Future Cruise and Anti-Ship Weapon (FCASW) by 2028

The RAF describe the Storm Shadow Conventionally Armed Stand-Off Missile (CASOM) as;

This long-range air-launched and conventionally-armed missile equips RAF Tornado GR4 squadrons and saw operational service in 2003 with 617 Squadron during combat in Iraq, prior to entering full service in 2004.

Armed with a specialist penetrating warhead it is designed to destroy high value and hardened targets at stand-off ranges.

Storm Shadow CASOM

Storm Shadow History

Storm Shadow has its roots in the 1982 Falkland Islands conflict.

Staff work on the 1982 Long-Range Stand-Off Missile was eventually absorbed in the 1987 seven countries NATO Modular Stand-Off Weapon (MSOW) programme. The MSOW partner nations included the USA, UK, Spain, Canada, France, West Germany and Italy. France and Canada withdrew citing concerns over work share. MSOW requirements included three different size missiles and a modular payload concept. The variants were for a short-range anti-tank, long-range static target and long-range mobile target.

Alliance Defence Corporation (ADC), headed by Rockwell, won the competition against General Dynamics but the deal was far from done. The USAF effectively killed off the programme by withdrawing in 1989, reportedly over differences in the concept of operations with the RAF. The USAF, in particular, wanted to drop the heavy (1,600kg) long-range version that the RAF particularly wanted for Tornado. Differences over the ‘stealthiness’ of the design was also a concern for the USAF and others.

With MSOW dead, the RAF and others went back to the drawing board.

Matra and BAE Dynamics started a discussion about merging their guided weapon units in 1992.

The 1994 Staff Requirement (Air) 1236 defined the need for a stand-off missile to be used against hardened targets such as aircraft shelters or command and control nodes.

A number of systems were proposed;

Daimler-Benz Aerospace/Saab Kinetic Energy Penetrating Destroyer (KEPD) 250/350

KEPD 350

Texas Instruments/Shorts Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW)

Rafael Popeye Turbo


GEC Marconi/BAE Pegasus; the PGM-4 variant of the Hakim B equipped with a Teledyne Ryan micro turbojet. The PGM-4 had to be redesigned so as not to breach Missile Technology Control Regime obligations, it was also called Centaur.

GEC Pegasus

Kentron MUPSOW; a version of a weapon then in development for the South African Air Force Multi-Purpose Stand-Off Weapon (MUPSOW) programme that would go on to be called Torgos, a weapon with the engine, tail and rear fuselage as the Pegasus/Centaur


Hughes/Smiths Industries Airhawk, a shortened Tomahawk cruise missile

Air Hawk

McDonnell Douglas/Hunting Grand SLAM derived from the Harpoon


A derivative of the Matra Apache missile called Storm Shadow.


Different industry groupings and partnerships emerged with pretty much every possible combination of new and developments of existing systems explored, even to the point of a proposal for a ‘Golden Eagle’, an enlarged version of Sea Eagle. Multiple designs were also proposed by some bidders in order to allow the smaller Harrier to carry it.

CASOM was intended to arm Harrier, Tornado and EF2000 (Typhoon)

To complicate matters, in 1994, Matra offered the Apache C to the Royal Navy for the Surface to Surface Guided Weapon Requirement.

Eventually, an enlarged Matra Apache C emerged as the leading choice, Germany was integrating it on their Tornado fleet and the unitary warhead instead of submunitions meant more space was available for fuel, thus meeting the 250km minimum range requirement. The Matra Apache was ahead of its time, the first of such a system in Europe, at 1,230 kg it was not small, but had a range of 140km and could carry ten KRISS runway denial submunitions.

The new system was to be called Storm Shadow.

SRA 1236 was very much beset by politics, its selection would pave the way for the merger of BAE Dynamics and Matra; the French government had blocked the merger, contingent on Storm Shadow being selected by the MoD. If the MoD chose the US or Israeli solution, Suadi Arabia would not be interested or likely able to obtain it for their Tornado fleet.

The £700 million contract to develop and manufacture Storm Shadow was signed in 1997 with Matra BAe Dynamics. Germany then went its own way with the Taurus KEPD 350, a system broadly comparable to Storm Shadow.

The French MoD awarded Matra BAe Dynamics an Fr6 Billion contract in 1998 for 500 SCALP-EG (Emploi General) missiles 1998. SCALP-EG and Storm Shadow are practically identical.

Storm Shadow was selected by Italy in 1999 and some initial funding from the French MoD was used by Matra BAe Dynamics to investigate ground, sea and submarine launching options.

The first flight of Storm Shadow took place at the end of 2000 with more carried out over the next few years.

Tornado Storm Shadow

2002 flight test video

In 2002, France started detailed development of a naval variant of Storm Shadow/SCALP-EG. At the end of the project definition phase, MBDA had concluded that the best approach was to take components from SCALP but house them in a new airframe that could fit within a 535mm standard torpedo tube. The Royal Navy was fully briefed during the development. For launching from the SLYVER Vertical Launch System, a booster would be used to eject the missile and turn it over to the direction of travel.

During the opening stages of Operation TELIC, RAF Tornado GR.4’s fired 27 Storm Shadow missiles, despite not being formally accepted into service. The missile releases were conducted by Tornado GR.4 aircraft from 617 Squadron, the Dambusters.


Storm Shadow was formally accepted into RAF service in October 2004, the CASOM Team Leader at the MoD commented;

Availability of this world-beating system represents a significant leap forward in technology and capability for the RAF. The state of the art navigation system, providing phenomenal precision, together with the specialised bunker-busting BROACH warhead has no known equivalent in the world today.

MBDA announced a series of potential upgrades for Storm Shadow in July 2004. The French MoD funded a €15m programme that demonstrated the potential for a one-way data link from the missile to launch aircraft that would relay information in real-time to allow some basic bomb damage assessment to be made. Follow-on studies were intended to show how a two-way data link could be used to re-target the missile whilst it was still in flight. Other options reportedly included an improved airframe design and a new seeker, the latter at the expense of some range.

The CASOM project out-turned at £981 million, for what is reported to be a 900 missile stock.

In 2008, the MoD announced the Storm Shadow Capability Enhancement Programme (SSCEP).

Storm Shadow was used in Operation ELLAMY, Libya 2011, by France, Italy and the UK.

On 19 Mar 11, four Tornado GR4s launched on a historic 3,000-mile round trip to conduct a deep strike Storm Shadow attack on key Libyan installations. The aircraft returned to RAF Marham in the early hours of Sunday morning having achieved 8 direct hits from eight weapons delivered.

The MoD revealed that during Operational ELLAMY, the UK fired 80 Storm Shadow and Tomahawk cruise missiles although they decided not to details the quantities for each due to security concerns.

A 2011 Parliamentary Question revealed the cost of a Storm Shadow;

Tom Blenkinsop: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of one Storm Shadow missile; and what assessment he has made of the value for money of the Storm Shadow missile. [49247]

Peter Luff: Storm Shadow provides the UK with a unique capability for precision strike against high-value hardened targets such as command bunkers without exposing aircraft and crews to high threat levels. The missile was procured in co-operation with France following an international competition. Storm Shadow missiles which were contracted for in 1997 are now held on the Ministry of Defence’s balance sheet at a value of some £790,000 per missile. This figure includes the costs of producing an integrated weapon system and not just the purchase cost of the missile. In addition, a further £160 million was incurred by the UK in development costs.

Flight trials of the Storm Shadow on Typhoon took place in November 2013, the contracted cost for Typhoon/Storm Shadow integration is £120 million.

Eurofighter Typhoon Storm Shadow Initial Flight Trials

The UK/France Defence and Security Summit in 2014 resulted in a number of decisions, including this one on Storm Shadow/SCALP

Progress has also been made on the SCALP-EG and Storm Shadow refurbishment and upgrade programme where both governments have agreed to share data associated with national concept and assessment phase programmes. We aim to agree on a Memorandum of Understanding for staffing by early summer 2014. Looking further ahead, we continue to work to progress the joint concept study assessing possible solutions to meet our long-term requirements to replace Harpoon, Exocet, and Storm Shadow/SCALP. The concept study is due to complete later this summer

This new missile is notionally designed to meet the SPEAR Cap 5 requirement, intended to be in service between 2030 and 2035.

In September 2014, a Parliamentary Question revealed Storm Shadow related details;

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on development of the Storm Shadow stand-off weapon; what assessment he has made of its potential advantages to the UK’s defence capabilities; and if he will make a statement. [207657]

Mr Dunne: Storm Shadow continues to provide the UK with a unique capability for precision strike against high-value hardened targets without exposing aircraft and crews to higher than necessary levels of risk.

The Storm Shadow Mid Life Refurbishment concept phase is considering options to maintain the Storm Shadow Weapons System Capability in order to meet our planning requirements. We have agreed to exchange information with France on our respective national refurbishment and upgrade programmes for Storm Shadow/SCALP EG (the French name for Storm Shadow), underpinned by a Memorandum of Understanding that was signed at the Farnborough International Air Show in July 2014.

I announced in July that the Storm Shadow is to be integrated into the RAF’s Typhoon aircraft to enter service in 2018.

A month after that, Janes confirmed the name of the joint UK/France missile would be Future Cruise and Anti-Ship Weapon (FCASW) / Futur Missile Antinavire/Futur Missile de Croisière (FMAN/FMC).

The first release of a Storm Shadow missile from a Typhoon was completed in November 2015.

STORM SHADOW adds attack stand-off capability to TYPHOON which now really accomplishes every possible role in the combat scenario. The aircraft retains excellent performance in an incredible low pilot workload cockpit environment, essential for a single-seat multirole aircraft,” Enrico Scarabotto, the Italian Chief Test pilot who flew the IPA2, said, while Steve Greenbank, Director of Aircraft Programmes for Military Air & Information, BAE Systems, commented on the METEOR trials: “These latest METEOR firing trials are another step forward in the integration of the missile onto the TYPHOON aircraft, demonstrating they can operate safely, accurately and effectively.”

The MoD confirmed that Storm Shadow integration had been dropped for the UK’s F-35B in January 2016, instead, it will likely concentrate on the SPEAR Capability 5 in the longer term. Storm Shadow was a threshold weapon in the original Operational Requirements Document (ORD). This means the UK’s Carrier Strike capability centred on the QE Class Carriers and F-35B will have no stand-off deep strike capability against hardened targets until 2030.

Work towards full qualification for Storm Shadow in Typhoon continued as part of the P2E package, intended to be complete by 2018, in time for Tornado OSD in 2019.

In early July 2016, the MoD confirmed a support contract award for Storm Shadow;

MOD has awarded a £28 million contract to support a long-range missile used by RAF Tornados and currently being integrated onto Typhoon aircraft. The contract with MBDA to support the missile over the next 5 years will ensure regular maintenance and repair of the weapon system, keeping it in a safe condition and at a high state of readiness for deployment.

The MoD has also confirmed Storm Shadow was used against an ISIS target, specifically a number of bunkers.

Intelligence had determined that Daesh were using a large concrete bunker in western Iraq as a weapons facility. Due to the massive construction, built during the Saddam era, it was decided to use four Stormshadow missiles against it, as the weapon has particularly good capabilities against such a challenging target. The missiles were launched on Sunday 26 June by two Tornados, all four Stormshadows scored direct hits and penetrated deep within the bunker.

Storm Shadow is in service (or ordered) with France, the UK, Italy, Greece, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE (Black Shaheen variant) and Egypt (Black Shaheen variant)

Usage figures were updated in September 2016 with the publication of the Parliamentary Defence Select Committee Report on Operations Against Daesh.


Four were used against targets in Iraq.

Storm Shadow will be subject to a Mid-Life Refurbishment (MLR) that will meet the SPEAR Capability 4 requirement, with a currently planned start date of 2017. This will take Storm Shadow to its planned out of service period of around 2030, when it will be replaced with the SPEAR Capability 5 system, notionally, the UK/France Future Cruise and Anti-Ship Weapon (FCASW) / Futur Missile Antinavire/Futur Missile de Croisière (FMAN/FMC).

MBDA Missile

The MLR was formally announced in March 2017.

Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin has today announced a £146 million contract with MBDA to regenerate an air-launched missile, alongside her French counterpart Laurent Collet-Billon. The shared deal with MDBA will see the UK’s Storm Shadow and France’s SCALP missiles updated so they remain fit for purpose and ready for operational use. During an inward visit by Laurent Collet-Billon, the Minister confirmed the strong partnership with France in a series of meetings at Lancaster House. The collaboration is providing a £50 million saving for both sides. The contract will keep the missile in service for the next decade and beyond and help to sustain around 60 UK jobs. Storm Shadow is a combat-proven, long-range, precision cruise missile, already in service with RAF Tornados, deployed recently against Daesh in Iraq.

The contract includes the refurbishment of the turbo-jet engine, an upgrade of the navigational system, and a like for like replacement of items such as the cabling, seals and gaskets, especially those that are life expired.

MBDA reported a successful design review for the Anglo-French  FC/ASW (Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon)

The conclusion of this Key Review makes it possible to select the most promising missile concepts in order to meet the requirements expressed by both nations’ armed forces.  More in-depth studies will now be conducted on these concepts with the aim of identifying the solutions that will be selected at the end of the concept phase in 2020 in order to answer both nations’ requirements for long range anti-ship missions, suppression of enemy air defences and deep strike.

The conclusions of this study will also make it possible to establish the road maps for maturing the technologies required, and to launch any follow on assessment phase. This new phase will demonstrate the necessary maturity of the weapon system and its key components, to be followed by the development and production phase in the 2024 timeframe, so that current weapons systems can be replaced in accordance with required timescales.

In March 2021, the MoD confirmed the first operational firing of a Storm Shadow from an RAF Typhoon against targets in Iraq.

The Royal Air Force is continuing to conduct airstrikes as required to assist the highly capable Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Forces to prevent Daesh from re-establishing a meaningful presence in Iraq. he caves identified were assessed to be particularly difficult targets and two RAF Typhoon FGR4s were therefore tasked to conduct strikes in support of ground forces from the highly-capable Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service

July 2021 confirmed the planning assumption for FCASW in-service dates

The Planning Assumption for Service Entry for Future Cruise /Anti-Ship Weapon on the T26 Frigate and Typhoon aircraft is 2028 and 2030 respectively.

Storm Shadow Capabilities

Storm Shadow is a stand-off air-launched cruise missile designed to destroy hardened and buried targets.

It weighs 1,300kg, is 5.1m long and has a width of approximately 0.5m. Using a Turbomeca Microturbo TRI 60-30 turbine engine it has a range that is variously reported but generally accepted to be between 250km and 300km, although many sources suggest up to 560km. This stand-off range allows the UK to attack targets without entering the engagement zone of anti-aircraft weapons.


Once released, wings deploy and using its GPS/INS and Terrain Profile Matching (TERPROM) navigation system guides the missile to the target area at a low level using terrain avoidance and masking. On the final approach, the nose cone is jettisoned and the infra-red sensor guides the missile to the impact point, performing terminal manoeuvre as required.

This image recognition terminal guidance system is extremely accurate, there have been reports of Storm Shadow missiles following each other down the first entry hole and this accuracy provides mission planners with many options, especially when seeking to exploit target weaknesses or avoiding surrounding areas.

The mission planning software allows every detail of the flight to be pre-programmed.

Apart from extreme accuracy, the second element of Storm Shadow effectiveness is the sophisticated warhead it carries, the Bomb, Royal Ordnance, Augmenting CHarge (BROACH).

Storm Shadow BROACH

BROACH uses a precursor penetrator charge followed by a follow-through main charge. Combined with an advanced fuze (like Paveway IV, from Thales) it has proven to be devastatingly effective.

Entry and exit points are shown in the images below.

Storm Shadow - Entry

Storm Shadow - Exit

BROACH is also in service on the US Joint Stand-Off Weapon, AGM-154C

BROACH advert

Storm Shadow was also the first weapon in UK service to be fully compliant with IM requirements.

Although details are scarce, SPEAR Capability 4 seems to be a relatively modest refurbishment programme, rather than the more ambitious concepts such as longer range, a two data link and improved stealth explored previously. No doubt we will find out when the contract is announced.

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Change DateChange Record
 02/05/2016Initial issue
 16/07/2021 Update
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