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Ukraine Strikes Russian Black Sea Fleet's Communication Hub with French SCALP Missiles

Satellite images from March 24, 2024, have provided irrefutable evidence of the aftermath of a strike involving French SCALP-EG cruise missiles on a crucial communication hub of the Russian Federation's Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol.
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The communication hub of the Russian Federation's Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol on 21 March 2024 and on 24 March 2024. (Picture source )

Sevastopol, a key port city on the Crimean Peninsula, annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014, has been a central naval base for Russia's Black Sea Fleet. The impact of the strike on the communication hub is expected to have implications for the fleet's operational capabilities, potentially affecting its command and control mechanisms as well as its ability to coordinate maritime operations in the strategically vital Black Sea region.

The SCALP-EG, a long-range air-launched cruise missile developed jointly by France and the United Kingdom, has been a pivotal asset in NATO's arsenal, designed for deep strike capabilities. Its deployment against the Black Sea Fleet's communication hub not only underscores the missile's precision and lethality but also signifies a bold strategic move aimed at disrupting Russian naval operations in the Black Sea.

The SCALP missile is a cruise missile designed by MBDA, a European defense consortium, with deployment beginning in 2002. With a unit cost of approximately 850,000 euros, this weapon system represents a long-range precision strike solution for armed forces. The SCALP is powered by a Microturbo TRI 60-30 engine, capable of generating a thrust of 5.7 kN, giving it a cruising speed of about 1,163 km/h, or Mach 0.80.

Weighing 1,300 kg at launch and measuring 5.10 meters in length with a wingspan of 2.85 meters, the SCALP can be launched from aircraft, thus offering significant deployment flexibility. Its range extends up to 560 kilometers, allowing armed forces to strike distant targets while remaining outside the range of enemy air defense. Operating usually at a cruising altitude of just 30 meters, the SCALP minimizes its radar signature, thereby increasing its chances of reaching its target undetected.

The missile is equipped with a 450 kg payload, using a tandem hollow charge of the "BROACH" type to maximize effectiveness against various types of targets, including fortified ones. To guide the missile to its target with metric precision, the SCALP uses a combination of inertial, topographic, radar, and infrared guidance systems, as well as GPS. This multitude of navigation systems ensures that the missile can maintain its trajectory toward the target even in environments where the GPS signal is compromised or in electronic jamming situations. The missile's detonation is designed to occur on impact, ensuring the delivery of its destructive payload precisely where needed to achieve the desired effect on the target.

Recently, the Black Sea Fleet has suffered several major setbacks, forcing it to even move its ships back, facing a Ukrainian force that does not have a fleet per se. This latest blow to the fleet's communications will not help it recover.


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