Ukraine Receives First SCALP Missiles From France: Loses 200 Men and Five Leopard Tanks in Zaporozhye

The Ukrainian Air Force has reportedly received its first SCALP air launched cruise missiles from France, according to Agence France-Presse reported citing French Defence Ministry sources. “The first missiles were delivered at the time when French President Emmanuel Macron made this announcement,” the service was informed on the sidelines of the ongoing NATO summit in Vilnius, with a “significant number” of missiles involved in the transfer. The SCALP was developed jointly with Britain, and is a near identical sister missile to the British Storm Shadow which has been in use in Ukraine since May. The missiles are prized for their stealth capabilities and their ability to provide a much longer ranged strike capability to aircraft such as the Su-24M strike fighter which Ukraine inherited from the Soviet Union. A Storm Shadow was captured relatively intact by Russian forces the previous week, however, which is expected to help the country develop more effective countermeasures. Three Storm Shadows were reportedly intercepted by Russian air defences on July 11, with electronic warfare reportedly making it particularly difficult for guided weapons to find their targets. It is expected that Germany will move in the coming months to provide its own equivalent missile, the Taurus, to Ukraine, with the United States having also provided a range of air launched missile classes to equip the country’s Soviet-built combat jets. 

Intense battles in the Zaporozhye area of Eastern Ukraine on July 11 caused heavy losses among Ukrainian forces, with an estimated more than 200 personnel and over 20 pieces of heavy armour lost in the area including five Leopard tanks. These were likely older Leopard 1 tanks, long since considered obsolete, which Ukraine has been provided in very large numbers by Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands alongside a smaller number of Leopard 2A4 and more capable Leopard 2A6 tanks. Even the Leopard 2A6, however, has taken significant combat losses in other parts of the frontlines some of which have been caught on film. Ukraine reportedly subsequently withdrew its Leopard 2s from the frontlines to conserve them for more important offensives, and due to ammunition shortages for their 120mm guns. The Leopard 1 is significantly less capable in all performance parameters than the much newer Soviet T-64 and T-72 tanks which formed the backbone of prior Ukrainian offensives, although heavy losses among Soviet vehicles have resulted in a growing reliance on newly supplied Western ones.