The RAF's Storm Shadow missile is a long-range air-launched cruise missile - and one of the most sophisticated air-launch weapons in the world.
It is designed to hit well-defended static targets such as facilities, bunkers and bridges without the need to place a bomber in a situation where it would face enemy air-defences.
The missile is launched from the RAF's Tornado GR4 and will be added to the Eurofighter Typhoon when it enters service.
A FAVOURED WEAPON
Storm Shadow makes a significant difference to our options - early indications are that its use has been highly successful
Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon, 24 March 2003
Storm Shadow is a "fire and forget" weapon. Its strength is in that it can be launched by a bomber from any location up to up to 155 miles (250km) from the actual target.
Technicians on the ground programme the missile with the target co-ordinates and locations of air defences in preparation for a sortie.
When the pilot nears the target, but is still a substantial distance away, the missile is released.
As it detaches from the bomber, its wings fold out and it enters a pre-programmed low and fast terrain-hugging attack altitude to cut under radar and air defences.
Storm Shadow navigates in two ways:
Constantly updating Global positioning system (GPS) data of its real location
Digital terrain profile matching to what it can see on the ground
As it enters its final approach, Storm Shadow jettisons its nose cone to reveal a high-resolution infra-red camera.
The target recognition hardware then compares what is coming up on the ground with the stored image of the target.
In theory, the missile constantly adjusts its course and angle of attack so that it hits the target as accurately as possible, reducing collateral damage and unintended deaths.
The first stage of the warhead is an initial penetration charge which aims to break into the interior of a target, such as a bunker.
Only following penetration does the second larger charge, delayed by a fuse, detonate.
Storm Shadow, manufactured by Matra BAe Dynamics, has been a decade in the making.
Military planners class Storm Shadow as a "high survivability and effectiveness" weapon - meaning it minimises the risk to aircraft and crew while maximising the radius of attack.
The better the pre-programme data, the more chances it has to navigate around enemy defences and still find its target.
To all intents and purposes the French-made SCALP EG cruise missile is exactly the same weapon. Both are derived from the earlier French Apache anti-runway missile.
|Storm Shadow cruise missile|
|Launch weight: ||1,300kg
|Wing span: ||3m
|Range: ||Over 250km
|Speed: ||Mach 0.8