Ukraine Situation Report: France Officially Sending SCALP Cruise Missiles
With the French donation of the SCALP cruise missile, Ukraine receives another long-range weapon to strike targets far beyond the front.
French President Emmanuel Macron officially announced that his nation is sending Ukraine SCALP-EGs air-launched, conventionally armed cruise missiles. He made the declaration Tuesday during the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. It confirms what we reported in May, that France was planning on sending Ukraine the long-range missiles, which have a stated range of around 350 miles in their domestic configuration. They can be equipped for significantly less range, around 155 miles, in an export configuration.
"I have decided to increase deliveries of weapons and equipment to enable the Ukrainians to have the capacity to strike deeply," Macron said. He declined to offer specifics on how many SCALPs Kyiv will receive.
But a French diplomatic source said the country was talking about sending Ukraine 50 SCALP missiles produced by European manufacturer MBDA, Reuters reported. The missiles would come from existing French military stocks, a French military source told reporters, adding that it would be a "significant number."
Along with the very closely related Storm Shadow missiles provided previously by the U.K., the SCALP-EGs give Ukraine additional munitions that exceed the range and punch of anything previously provided by the United States or the country's other international partners. SCALP-EGs have warheads capable of penetrating hardened targets, stealthy features and use low-altitude flight profiles to reduce the possibility of interception. Like Storm Shadow, Ukraine will launch these missiles form Su-24 Fencers. You can read more about what these missiles bring to the table for the Ukrainian Air Force in our previous deep dive on Storm Shadow here.
The other munitions provided or promised Ukraine have much shorter ranges.
The vaunted Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS) artillery rockets provided by the U.S. and allies have a range of some 50 miles and a much smaller warhead. They are fired by the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, and variants and derivatives of the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) also provided to Ukraine.
The still-promised Ground Launched Small Diameter Bombs (GLSDB) the United States has said it will be providing have a range of about 94 miles and also has a much smaller warhead than the one found inside SCALP-EG and Storm Shadow. These weapons are supposed to arrive this fall.
The U.S.-donated Joint Direct Attack Munition-Extend Range, or JDAM-ER, air-launched precision-guided bomb has a range of about 45 miles with considerable destructive power, the implications of which The War Zone has previously explored in detail.
Storm Shadow missiles have been used to great effect by Ukraine over the last few months, including an attack on the Chongar Bridge in Crimea last month, a key logistics node.
However, one Storm Shadow recently fell into Russian hands in a partially intact state.
Russia, meanwhile, expressed its displeasure with Macron's move.
"France's decision to transfer long-range missiles to Ukraine is erroneous, but does not affect the course of the special operation to protect Donbas," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Tuesday.
“Of course, it remains to be clarified and figured out what kind of radius we are talking about. This, from our point of view, is an erroneous decision, fraught with consequences for the Ukrainian side,” he said.
Peskov did not say what those consequences were.
The decision by Macron is the latest boost to Ukraine's weapons inventory as its counteroffensive in the south and east - now in its second month - is facing stiff opposition from well-dug-in Russian forces.
On Friday, the Pentagon announced it was sending Ukraine "hundreds of thousands" of rounds of controversial Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions (DPICMs) cluster munitions, which you can read more about here, to help Ukraine deal with that battlefield reality.
We'll keep watching for developments on that front.
Before we head into the latest updates from Ukraine, The War Zone readers can catch up on our previous rolling coverage here.
The chief sergeant major of the 47th Mechanized Infantry Brigade has resigned from his position, saying he lacks faith in his commanding officer.
“I categorically disagree with the decisions regarding the use and development of the 47th Brigade,” Valerii Markus said on his Telegram channel Tuesday. “We were not allowed to build a military unit according to the values that we declared at the beginning of its creation. I no longer have the opportunity to influence or correct the situation. I no longer consider my position as the chief sergeant of the brigade appropriate.”
The 47th Mechanized Infantry Brigade was specially trained in Germany on combined arms manuever, including the use of Bradley Fighting Vehicles and other armor. It was the unit that led the attack into Mala Tokmachka last month in which several Bradleys, a Leopard-2 tank and other equipment was lost.
However, the unit has also been making progress. As we noted yesterday, it advanced near the town of Robotyne, about six miles south of Mala Tomchatka. And it appears that the area where those vehicles were lost is now under Ukrainian control and that many may have been recovered.
Markus, who has his own website and has helped raise money for the effort, says he is not leaving the unit however.
“I can't leave my people, so I go to the lowest position on my OWN desire to be closer to them on the battlefield,” he said. “The report is already on the commander's desk.”
As expected, NATO’s joint statement out of the Vilnius Summit said that Ukraine would one day join the alliance, but offered no specific timeline for when that will happen.
Ukraine “has increased its level of interoperability and political interaction with the Alliance and made great progress on the path to reform,” the statement said, adding that NATO will continue working with Ukraine on implementing reforms.
But much to the consternation of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the invitation is open-ended.
“We will be able to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance when the Allies decide to do so and the conditions are met,” according to the statement. “NATO Foreign Ministers will regularly assess progress against the adapted annual National Program. The Alliance will help Ukraine implement these reforms and move forward on its path to future membership. We will be able to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance when the Allies decide to do so and the conditions are met.”
In a Tweet, Zelensky called NATO's approach "absurd" and a sign of "weakness."
Germany announced a new military aid package for Ukraine worth about €686 million ($887 million), which will “serve Ukraine’s priorities: air defense, tanks, artillery,” German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius told reporters upon arrival at the NATO summit, Politico reported.
The German package will include 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles, 25 Leopard 1 A5 main battle tanks, five Bergepanzer 2 tank recovery vehicles, as well as two launch units for the Patriot air defense system. Berlin will also deliver more ammunition, including 20,000 rounds of artillery shells, and anti-drone and anti-mine systems.
Ukraine’s Delta battle management system has passed NATO tests and is ready to integrate with Western equipment, especially F-16 fighters, a top Ukrainian official said Tuesday on his Telegram channel.
Delta allows troops to “see the battlefield online with the location of enemy forces,” said Mikhail Federov, Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation. “This is the only platform in Ukraine that pulls data from aerial reconnaissance, satellites, drones, the latest equipment, stationary cameras, radars, chatbots, etc. All these data make it possible to efficiently plan military operations and effectively destroy invaders.”
The Delta system "has been successfully tested with 15 systems from 10 countries, including three systems developed directly by NATO,” Federov said. “All interoperability tests were successful and Delta once again confirmed its unique capabilities.”
Successful testing was also completed on four data exchange protocols, through which the majority of modern weapons that Ukraine receives from Western partners work, said Federov. “All these samples of the latest technology can be integrated with Delta and applied even more efficiently.”
Most importantly, Delta was able to work with the Link 16 datalink system, which in the case of aircraft gives it the ability to exchange its tactical picture with other aircraft in near-real-time. It also facilitates communications with ground stations.
Link 16 “makes it possible to receive data in Delta from F-16 fighters, which is so necessary for Ukraine,” said Federov. His comments come on a day when Ukraine signed an agreement with 11 nations to begin training pilots, maintainers and support staff on operating those fighters.
A system like Delta is “just as important as having fighter pilots capable of quickly mastering the next generation of fighters,” he said. “These are real achievements that Ukraine should be frankly proud of and can boldly demonstrate to NATO partners.”
Another Russian general was apparently killed in Ukraine, according to a Russian Telegram channel.
“As a result of the strike by the British Storm Shadow cruise missiles on the [headquarters] of the 58th Army in the Berdyansk region, the deputy commander of the Southern Military District, Lieutenant General Oleg Tsokov, was killed,” according to the Military Informant Telegram channel. “The servicemen spoke of Tsokov as a competent officer and a good commander.”
On Sept. 23, 2022, Tsokov, then commander of the 144th Guards Motorized Rifle Elninskaya Red Banner Divisoin (Smolensk) was wounded, according to the Radio Svaboda Telegram channel on that date, citing the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Yesterday, we told you that Stanislav Rzhitsky was shot in Krasnodar, Russia while on his morning run. He was a captain of the 2nd rank and accused by Ukraine of being commander of the Improved Kilo-class submarine Krasnodar (B-265) suspected of launching a Kalibr cruise missile that killed 27 people in the Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia last July.
Rzhitsky’s family, however, said he was not even on the sub at the time of the attack.
"His father told Baza that his son had filed his resignation from the Russian army back in 2021 and did not take part in the Ukraine war," Novayagazeta reported. "Rzhitsky was only officially fired in August 2022, but his father claims he was in Sevastopol until then and did not go to sea. Several months later, the 42-year-old took up a job in the Krasnodar administration. Rzhitsky’s friend Sergey Gainulin also told the media that the captain had left the army before the invasion of Ukraine."
Today, Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine's Defense Intelligence Directorate (GUR) denied involvement in that incident.
"Statements by some media and politicians that the GUR has something to do with the death of Stanislav Rzytskyi, who was the commander of the submarine "Krasnodar" and killed the civilian Ukrainian population, have no basis," he said Tuesday on his Telegram channel. "We know that the roots of what happened yesterday in the Russian Federation must be sought within Russia itself, where internal protest against the war in Ukraine is growing."
Our colleagues at Task & Purpose noted that an account claiming to be from Budanov appeared on the page of Rzhitski's Stavra running app after the killing.
"Though the Russian’s account has been inundated with comments and attention since his death became public, the Budanov account was the first non-Russian account to find Rzhitsky’s account, tagging his final run within hours of his death with a “kudo,” Task & Purpose reported.
Today, Russian authorities, Task & Purpose noted, arrested what they said was suspect in the killing. They released video of what they say is the man trailing Rzhitsky on a bicycle during his Monday run, just prior to the killing. Russian media is reporting that the man, 64, is the former head of a Ukrainian martial arts association.
We asked Budanov earlier in the day about that ap and any involvement he or the GUR might have had in this murder. We will update this story with any response we receive.
Yevgeny Prigozhin's Wagner Private Military Corporation troops will begin training in Belarus at some point, that nation's Defense Ministry said Tuesday on its Telegram channel.
Though no timeline was announced, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said he is looking forward to how they can help his troops. It was Lukashenko who brokered the deal that saw Prigozhin stand down from his mutinous march to Moscow last month in exchange for exile to Belarus.
“They will tell about weapons: which worked well, which did not," Lukashenko said, according to the Belarusian MoD Telegram channel. "And tactics, and weapons, and how to attack, how to defend. It's priceless…"
The Watervliet Arsenal, the nation's oldest working arsenal, just happens to be the only U.S. Army facility able to produce the large caliber cannon tubes critical to tanks, artillery systems and mortars.
Defense News took a deep dive into efforts to modernize the facility to meet the demands of providing Ukraine with needed weapons as well as U.S. needs. The Army is spending $1 billion over the next decade to modernize a plant that first came on line during the War of 1812.
The U.K. is also trying to beef up its stockpiles as the war in Ukraine drags on.
BAE Systems - the country's biggest defense company - was given a 280 million pound ($361 million) order for munitions in an effort to boost production, replenish its stockpiles and ensure supply for Ukraine, Reuters reported.
Britain and its NATO allies have sent millions of rounds of ammunition to Ukraine - with the U.S. alone sending more than two million rounds - sparking concern about domestic stock levels. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the new contract would address this risk.
BAE will increase the U.K.’s production capacity for 155mm artillery ammunition eightfold as a result of the new order, according to Reuters, allowing a jump in output of what is NATO standard munitions.
The first woman soldier - identified only by her code number "68" has passed the qualifications course (Q-Course) of the Ukrainian special operations forces (SSO).
“Today, during the graduation of the Special Operations Forces Qualification Course, 'number 68' received a special operations patch,” the SSO said Tuesday on its Telegram channel.
“Number 68 is the first female military serviceman who overcame the distance in several months of the SSO Q-course. Ahead is division into one of the military units and hard work for the approaching Victory of Ukraine.”
The laughter heard from the soldier in this video below after he sets off an explosion by firing at a target in devastated Bakhmut speaks volumes for the horror and insanity of war.
More video has emerged of battles in and around tree lines, which are ubiquitous across Ukraine's flat areas once used for farming, not fighting. In the video below, Marines of the 35 Separate Brigade are seen destroying Russian targets in a tree line somewhere in Donetsk Oblast.
Ukrainian troops say the captured another 10 Russian soldiers near Bakhmut. Ukraine has taken to calling such prisoners "the exchange fund" used to trade for its troops captured by Russia.
The Ukrainian General Staff said that Russia launched another wave of Iranian-made drones Tuesday, with air defense units shooting down 26 of 28 launched.
Lt. Gen. Serhii Naiev, Commander of the United Forces of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, posted wild video of air defense forces downing the drones.
The video below purports to show a Ukrainian soldier down one of those drones with a man-portable air defense system (MANPADS).
Damaged Russian equipment, including a BMPT Terminator Tanks Support Fighting Vehicle, a T-90M tank and a KamAZ six-wheeled truck were recently seen at an evacuation point.
After losing three limbs in combat, this Ukrainian soldier is persevering and adapting to prosthetic limbs.
And finally, Ukrainian soldiers apparently don't just keep unusual pets on the front lines. This soldier has a pet raccoon and took it on public transportation.
That's it for now. We'll update this story when there's more news to report about Ukraine.
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