Italy’s Strategic Military Support to Ukraine: The Involvement of Storm Shadow Missiles

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In a significant development in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the United Kingdom’s Defense Minister has disclosed that Italy has supplied Ukraine with Storm Shadow long-range missiles. This revelation marks a pivotal moment in the international military support for Ukraine amidst its conflict with Russia. The announcement was made by Grant Shapps, the UK Defense Minister, during his visit to the factory in the United Kingdom where the missile manufacturer MBDA produces the Storm Shadow missile. This missile has played a crucial role in Ukraine’s military operations, particularly in targeting Russian positions in Crimea and other areas.

Background of Storm Shadow Missiles

The Storm Shadow missile, developed by the European missile consortium MBDA, is renowned for its precision and long-range capabilities. Originally purchased by Italy from MBDA in 1999, Italy has acquired around 200 units over the years. These missiles were notably used during NATO’s operation in Libya in 2011, underscoring their strategic importance in military operations. The Storm Shadow is capable of hitting targets with high precision over long distances, making it an invaluable asset in modern warfare.

Italy’s Military Contributions to Ukraine

While Britain and France have previously announced their contributions of Storm Shadows and their respective versions to Ukraine, Italy had remained relatively silent about its contributions. This changed with Shapps’ announcement, which shed light on Italy’s active role in supporting Ukraine militarily. The Italian Defense Ministry, however, has not offered comments regarding this new development, maintaining a level of secrecy that has characterized its approach to military support in the conflict.

In January 2024, the Italian parliament officially endorsed the continuation of Italy’s military support to Ukraine, a decision that has sparked mixed reactions both within the political sphere and among the public. This move aligns with the Italian government’s commitment, under the right-wing leadership, to support Ukraine amidst its ongoing conflict with Russia.

Details of the Military Support: The specifics of the military support packages for Ukraine have been largely kept confidential. However, Italy’s contributions are reported to include advanced military equipment and support systems, which are crucial for enhancing Ukraine’s defensive capabilities against Russian aggression. Among the reported items are:

Missile Systems

  • Storm Shadow Missiles: These are long-range air-launched cruise missiles.
  • Stinger Missiles: Man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) that are effective against low-altitude aircraft.

Anti-Tank Weapons

  • Milan and Panzerfaust Systems: Anti-tank guided missiles that provide effective anti-armor capability.

Artillery Systems

  • PzH 2000 Howitzers: Highly mobile and powerful artillery systems with significant impact in battlefield conditions.
  • Multiple-Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS): These systems provide a substantial increase in firepower with the capability to launch multiple rockets in a short period.

Small Arms

  • Various types of heavy and light machine guns, enhancing the infantry’s combat capabilities.

Counter-IED Equipment

  • Systems specifically designed to counteract improvised explosive devices, critical in modern asymmetric warfare scenarios.

Military Vehicles

  • A range of military vehicles including armored personnel carriers and support vehicles, providing mobility and protection for ground forces.

    Strategic and Tactical Impact

    The provision of such diverse and powerful military equipment by Italy plays a crucial role in bolstering the defensive capabilities of Ukraine. Each type of equipment serves a specific tactical purpose, from disrupting enemy air operations and destroying armored threats to providing crucial artillery support and enhancing troop mobility and protection.

    Italy’s continued military support through 2024 underscores its strategic position and commitment to supporting Ukraine amidst ongoing regional conflicts. This assistance not only enhances Ukraine’s military capabilities but also reflects Italy’s broader geopolitical interests and its role within the NATO alliance in ensuring regional stability.

    The Role of Samp-T Air Defense System

    One notable piece of military hardware that Italy has supplied is the Samp-T air defense system. This system, which entered service with the Italian Army in 2013, is designed to intercept cruise missiles, manned and unmanned aircraft, and tactical ballistic missiles. Italy has five of these systems and has previously coordinated with France to provide one system to Ukraine. The potential for further support with additional Samp-T systems remains a topic of discussion, especially in light of increasing missile attacks by Russia in Ukraine.

    International Reactions and Criticisms

    The provision of advanced missiles like the Storm Shadow to Ukraine has not been without controversy. Shapps’ statements also included criticism of Germany for not sending its Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine. He emphasized that the missiles provided by France, Britain, and Italy have proven highly effective and that Germany, possessing a substantial inventory of such missiles, should consider providing them to make a significant impact.

    The involvement of Italy in supplying advanced military weaponry to Ukraine marks a critical phase in the international response to the conflict in Ukraine. The strategic military assets provided by Italy, including the sophisticated Storm Shadow missiles, are set to enhance Ukraine’s defensive and offensive capabilities significantly. As the situation evolves, the role of international partners like Italy will continue to be crucial in shaping the military dynamics and the eventual outcomes of the conflict.

    This detailed account not only sheds light on the specific contributions and the types of military equipment involved but also highlights the broader implications of international military support in conflicts involving major global powers.

    Image :Storm Shadow Missile – source – mbda-systems

    Enhancing Italy’s Defense Capabilities: The Acquisition of M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS)

    Overview of the Deal

    On December 15, 2023, the U.S. State Department approved a significant foreign military sale to the Government of Italy. The deal, valued at an estimated $400 million, involves the supply of M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) along with an extensive array of related equipment. This development marks a pivotal moment in Italy’s military enhancement efforts, underlining its strategic intent to bolster defense capabilities amid evolving global threats.

    Components of the Sale

    The contract stipulates the delivery of twenty-one M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems. Additionally, the package includes one M31A2 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System Unitary (GMLRS-U) High Explosive (HE) Pods equipped with an Insensitive Munitions Propulsion System (IMPS), highlighting the advanced nature of the weaponry involved. The agreement also encompasses a broad spectrum of supplementary equipment and training modules:

    • Universal Fielding Modules and various toolkits, including towbars and crypto-fill cables.
    • Advanced communication systems like the AN/PRC-158 Multi-Channel Tactical Radio and the RF-7800i CU100 radio router.
    • Hardware for high frequency communications, including installation kits for HARRIS 160W HF radios and the Simple Key Loader AN/PYQ-10 (C).
    • Comprehensive training hardware and software for the Fire Control Panel Trainer (FCPT) and the Missile Common Test Device Trainer (MCTD-T).
    • Operational support tools such as the Panasonic Toughbook ruggedized laptops, Launcher Adapter Groups, and Weapons Control Units.
    • Maintenance and logistical support equipment, including the Maintenance Support Device (MSD) V.4 and the Wireless AT-Platform Test Set (WATS).
    • Program and logistic support elements, ensuring seamless integration and functionality of the systems within Italy’s armed forces.

    Strategic Implications and Benefits

    The acquisition of HIMARS significantly enhances Italy’s military capabilities, particularly in terms of mobility, precision, and the ability to rapidly deploy substantial firepower. This sale is not merely a transaction of military hardware but a boost to the strategic interoperability between Italy, the United States, and NATO allies. The systems will play a critical role in the defense of deployed troops and in bolstering regional security.

    Economic and Industrial Impact

    Lockheed Martin, based in Grand Prairie, TX, is designated as the principal contractor for this deal. This agreement underscores the importance of the defense industry’s role in the U.S. economy, providing jobs and maintaining the industrial base. Interestingly, the contract does not involve any known offset agreements, which are typically used to balance trade.

    The financial terms indicate that the $400 million valuation is an upper estimate, dependent on final negotiations and budget allocations by the Italian government. The actual expenditure may vary, providing flexibility in terms of budgetary adjustments and final procurement details.

    Implementation and Training

    To facilitate the integration of HIMARS into the Italian military framework, the U.S. Government plans to deploy U.S. personnel and contractors to Italy. These teams, consisting of 10 government and 10 contractor representatives, will make annual trips for program management reviews and to conduct New Equipment Training sessions. This hands-on approach ensures that the Italian forces are well-equipped to operate and maintain the new systems effectively.

    Impact on Regional Military Balance

    The introduction of HIMARS into Italy’s arsenal is projected to have a neutral impact on the regional military balance. Rather than altering the dynamics of power, this move is aimed at enhancing defensive capabilities and ensuring preparedness against potential threats. It also strengthens Italy’s position within NATO as a robust and capable ally, ready to contribute effectively to collective security initiatives.

    Forward Outlook

    As the process unfolds, further details regarding the implementation phases, training schedules, and finalization of the financial aspects will be clarified. It is crucial for all stakeholders to maintain transparency and adherence to the agreed terms to ensure the success of this strategic partnership.


    APPENDIX 1 – Detailed Analysis of Storm Shadow Missiles: Technical Specifications, Capabilities, and Strategic Impact

    The Storm Shadow missile, developed by MBDA Systems, is a long-range, air-launched, stand-off attack missile primarily utilized by the armed forces of the United Kingdom and France. It is designed to precisely strike high-value stationary targets such as airbases, radar installations, and communication hubs. This analysis delves into the technical specifications, capabilities, and the broader strategic implications of the Storm Shadow missile deployment, particularly focusing on its recent use in the Ukraine conflict and integration with Italian forces.

    AttributeDetails
    ManufacturerMBDA Systems (France)
    Service OperatorsUK, France, Egypt, India, Italy, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE
    Alias in UAEBlack Shaheen
    Intended TargetsAirbases, radar installations, communication hubs, port facilities
    Operational EnvironmentAny weather, day and night
    Stealth FeaturesLong range, low altitude, subsonic speed
    Aircraft CompatibilityTornado GR4, Tornado IDS, Saab Gripen, Mirage 2000, Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, F-35 JSF
    Operational MilestonesFirst operational use by UK in Iraq (2003), First French operational use (2011)
    Development ContractsUK MoD: €1.13bn (1997), France DGA: (1997), Italy (1999), UAE (1999), Greece (2000, 2003)
    Mid-life RefurbishmentFebruary 2017, for UK and French Ministries of Defence
    Software UpgradeDecember 2020, for Indian Air Force’s Rafale SCALP missile
    Length5.1 meters
    Wingspan3 meters
    Diameter0.48 meters
    Weight1,300 kg
    Range>250 km
    Navigation SystemsInertial Navigation (INS), GPS, Terrain Reference Navigation
    GuidanceFully autonomous, fire-and-forget, passive imaging infrared seeker
    Warhead TypeTwo-stage BROACH (Blast/Penetrator)
    PropulsionTurbomeca Microturbo TRI 60-30 turbojet, 5.4kN thrust
    This table provides a comprehensive overview of the Storm Shadow / SCALP missile, highlighting its key features, specifications, operational compatibility, and historical milestones.

    Technical Specifications and Capabilities

    Physical and Operational Characteristics:

    • Length: 5.1 meters
    • Wingspan: 3 meters
    • Diameter: 0.48 meters
    • Weight: 1,300 kilograms
    • Range: Over 250 kilometers
    • Speed: Subsonic, cruising at Mach 0.8
    • Propulsion: Turbojet engine, specifically the Turbomeca Microturbo TRI 60-30, producing a thrust of 5.4kN

    Guidance and Navigation Systems:

    • The Storm Shadow is equipped with a sophisticated guidance system that includes inertial navigation (INS), global positioning system (GPS), and terrain reference navigation. This combination ensures high accuracy even in challenging conditions.
    • The missile employs a passive imaging infrared seeker that continuously updates the flight path by comparing the actual target area with pre-stored imagery.

    Warhead:

    • The missile is fitted with a two-stage bomb royal ordnance augmented charge (BROACH) warhead. The initial stage breaches the surface, allowing the larger main warhead to penetrate the target and detonate within, ensuring deep impact destruction.

    Deployment and Integration with Italian Forces

    Italy has integrated Storm Shadow missiles into its military arsenal, deploying them on platforms such as the Eurofighter Typhoon and Tornado IDS aircraft. This integration enhances the Italian Air Force’s capability to perform long-range precision strikes, aligning with modern defense strategies and NATO’s interoperability requirements.

    Operational Impact in the Ukraine Conflict

    Storm Shadow missiles have been pivotal in the Ukraine conflict, providing Ukrainian forces the ability to conduct long-range precision strikes against strategic Russian targets. The missile’s stealthy profile and long-range capability allow it to engage targets deep within enemy territory, significantly impacting the operational dynamics and bolstering Ukraine’s defense posture.

    Strategic Implications for Regional Security

    The deployment of Storm Shadow missiles by NATO countries, including Italy, underscores a strategic shift towards utilizing advanced precision-guided munitions (PGMs) in regional security frameworks. These capabilities not only enhance deterrence against potential aggressors but also demonstrate a commitment to collective defense and technological advancement in military operations.

    The Storm Shadow missile represents a significant technological and strategic asset within modern military arsenals, characterized by its precision, range, and versatility. As geopolitical tensions evolve, the role of such advanced systems will be crucial in shaping military strategies and maintaining regional stability. The integration and use of Storm Shadow missiles by countries like Italy in the Ukraine conflict highlight the growing importance of long-range, precision-strike capabilities in contemporary warfare.


    APPENDIX 2 – MILAN (Missile d’Infanterie Legar ANtichar)

    AspectDetails
    NameMILAN (Missile d’Infanterie Legar ANtichar)
    OriginFrance
    Development Period1960s (part of the Euromissile Franco-German program)
    Entered Service1972
    Exported toMore than 40 countries
    Customer List41 countries (including non-state groups)
    ManufacturerMBDA (formerly Euromissile)
    PurposeInfantry anti-tank missile
    VariantsMILAN 2, MILAN 2T, MILAN 3, MILAN ADT, MILAN ER
    Production QuantityEstimated 360,000 missiles since the 1970s
    StandardizationSuccessful standardization among NATO forces
    DeploymentCompany level anti-tank defense, mounted on armored vehicles like Panhard VBL, VAB APC, AMX-10P IFV
    Combat RecordUsed in various conflicts globally, including Falklands War, Iran-Iraq War, Syrian Civil War
    Operational RangeMILAN ER: 3 kilometers
    Penetration CapabilityMILAN ER: 1,000 mm of rolled homogenous armor behind ERA
    Guidance SystemWire-guided system for resistance to jamming, day/night targeting capabilities
    Notable Features– Standardization among NATO forces
    – Generous export to various countries and non-state groups
    – Successful combat record and adaptability in different conflict scenarios
    – Continuous improvements with newer variants like MILAN ER
    – Compatible launcher system across variants for ease of upgrade

    This table covers the key aspects of the MILAN anti-tank missile system, including its development, variants, production, combat record, and notable features.

    Image : MILAN – source wikipedia


    APPENDIX 3 – PzH 2000 Howitzers

    PzH 2000 artillery system in service with the Italian Army:

    AspectDetails
    NamePzH 2000 (Panzerhaubitze 2000)
    DescriptionSelf-propelled howitzer
    Crew5 (Gunner, Loader, Commander, Driver, Assistant Driver)
    ManufacturerKrauss-Maffei Wegmann
    First Test1993
    Primary UserGermany (Bundeswehr)
    Other UsersItaly, Netherlands, Greece, Croatia, Ukraine
    Unit Cost€9,000,000 (Italian Army unit cost)
    Dimensions and WeightLength: 11.70 m (including gun barrel)
    Width: 3.60 m
    Height: 3.10 m
    Weight: 55.8 tonnes
    Propulsion and TechnologyEngine: MTU MT881 Ka-500 diesel
    Power: 1000 hp
    Drive: Tracked
    Suspension: Torsion bar
    PerformanceSpeed: 60 km/h
    Range: 420 km
    Armament and ArmorFire Control System: MICMOS computer (supplied by EADS)
    Primary Armament: 155 mm howitzer
    Secondary Armament: Rheinmetall MG3 7.62 mm machine gun

    This table covers the specifications, capabilities, and usage details of the PzH 2000 artillery system, including its crew, manufacturer, primary and secondary armament, dimensions, weight, propulsion, performance, and primary users.

    Image : PzH 2000 Howitzers – source wikipedia


    APPENDIX 4 – M142 HIGH MOBILITY ARTILLERY ROCKET SYSTEMS (HIMARS)

    Italy – M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) – Lockheed Martin ©

    Overview of the Foreign Military Sale

    The State Department has approved a Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to the Government of Italy for the acquisition of M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and related equipment, with an estimated cost of $400 million. This sale includes a range of systems and support elements aimed at enhancing Italy’s defense capabilities and interoperability with the United States and other allied forces.

    Equipment Included in the Sale

    Rocket Systems:

    • Twenty-one (21) M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS)
    • One (1) M31A2 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System Unitary (GMLRS-U) High Explosive (HE) Pods with Insensitive Munitions Propulsion System (IMPS)

      Support Equipment:

      • Universal Fielding Modules
      • Towbar toolkits and sets
      • Crypto-fill cable
      • AN/PRC-158 Multi-Channel Tactical Radio installation kits
      • Multi-Channel AN/PRC-158 radios
      • RF-7800i CU100 radio router
      • HARRIS installation kits for 160W high-frequency (HF) radio system
      • HF AN/PRC-160W-HF radios
      • Simple Key Loader (SKL) AN/PYQ-10 (C)
      • RF-7800i Tactical Intercom System installation kit
      • RF7800i Tactical Intercom System
      • Fire Control Panel Trainer (FCPT) hardware and software
      • Missile Common Test Device Trainer (MCTD-T), slim
      • Panasonic Toughbook ruggedized laptop with 30ft cables and power adapters and internal CD ROM drive
      • RF-7800i Tactical Intercom System training hardware
      • RF-7800i and CU100 training rigs, test equipment, and Golden System for operator and maintenance training
      • Launcher Adapter Group (LAG) and Sling
      • Launcher Control Unit (LCU)
      • Weapons Control Unit (WCU)
      • MCTD V.4 hardware and spares
      • MCTD V.4 software and publications
      • Spare parts
      • Maintenance Support Device (MSD) V.4
      • Wireless AT-Platform Test Set (WATS)
      • Guided missile organizational tool kit
      • Hydraulic Servicing Unit (HSU)
      • Interactive Electronic Technical Manual (IETM) development
      • Direct Support (DS)/General Support (GS) tool kits
      • Gas Particulate Filter Unit (GPFU)
      • Forward Repair System (FRS)
      • Positioning Navigation Assembly (PNA) with Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module (SAASM) Global Positioning System/Precise Positioning Service (GPS/PPS)
      • Common MLRS SPORT Test Program Set (CMST) hardware and software development
      • Mobile Standard Automotive Tool Set (SATS)
      • RF7800i Tactical Intercom System spare package
      • Technical Manual Unit organizational Repair Parts and Special Tools List (RPSTL)
      • Technical Manual operator’s manual
      • Launch POD/container (LP/C) trainer M68A2
      • GMLRS-U flight surveillance kit
      • Other related elements of program and logistic support

      Purpose and Impact of the Sale

      The sale is intended to support U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives by enhancing the security of Italy, a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally. Italy seeks these capabilities to defend deployed troops, bolster regional security, and improve interoperability with U.S. and allied forces. The acquisition of HIMARS and related equipment will enable Italy to address current and future threats effectively.

      Contractor and Support Details

      • Principal Contractor: Lockheed Martin, Grand Prairie, TX
      • Offset Agreements: There are no known offset agreements associated with this potential sale.
      • Personnel Assignment: Implementation of the sale will require the assignment of 10 U.S. Government and 10 contractor representatives annually to Italy for one-week periods. This assignment is necessary for program management reviews and New Equipment Training.

      The proposed sale of M142 HIMARS systems to Italy represents a significant investment in enhancing Italy’s defense capabilities and strengthening its partnership with the United States and NATO. The detailed package of equipment and support elements underscores the commitment to ensuring regional security and interoperability among allied forces.

      Here’s a detailed scheme table based on the data you provided about the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) sale to Italy:

      Item DescriptionQuantityUnit Cost (USD)Total Cost (USD)
      M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS)21
      M31A2 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System Unitary (GMLRS-U) High Explosive (HE) Pods with Insensitive Munitions Propulsion System (IMPS)1
      Universal Fielding Modules
      Towbar toolkits and sets
      Crypto-fill cable
      AN/PRC-158 Multi-Channel Tactical Radio installation kits
      Multi-Channel AN/PRC-158 radios
      RF-7800i CU100 radio router
      HARRIS installation kits for 160W high frequency (HF) radio system
      HF AN/PRC-160W-HF radios
      Simple Key Loader (SKL) AN/PYQ-10 (C)
      RF-7800i Tactical Intercom System installation kit
      RF7800i Tactical Intercom System
      Fire Control Panel Trainer (FCPT) hardware and software
      Missile Common Test Device Trainer (MCTD-T), slim
      Panasonic Toughbook ruggedized laptop with 30ft cables and power adapters and internal CD ROM drive
      RF-7800i Tactical Intercom System training hardware
      RF-7800i and CU100 training rigs, test equipment, and Golden System for operator and maintenance training
      Launcher Adapter Group (LAG) and Sling
      Launcher Control Unit (LCU)
      Weapons Control Unit (WCU)
      MCTD V.4 hardware and spares
      MCTD V.4 software and publications
      Spare parts
      Maintenance Support Device (MSD) V.4
      Wireless AT-Platform Test Set (WATS)
      Guided missile organizational tool kit
      Hydraulic Servicing Unit (HSU)
      Interactive Electronic Technical Manual (IETM) development
      Direct Support (DS)/General Support (GS) tool kits
      Gas Particulate Filter Unit (GPFU)
      Forward Repair System (FRS)
      Positioning Navigation Assembly (PNA) with Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module (SAASM) Global Positioning System/Precise Positioning Service (GPS/PPS)
      Common MLRS SPORT Test Program Set (CMST) hardware and software development
      Mobile Standard Automotive Tool Set (SATS)
      RF7800i Tactical Intercom System spare package
      Technical Manual Unit organizational Repair Parts and Special Tools List (RPSTL)
      Technical Manual operator’s manual
      Launch POD/container (LP/C) trainer M68A2
      GMLRS-U flight surveillance kit
      Other related elements of program and logistic support
      Total Estimated Cost$400,000,000

      Image : M142 HIGH MOBILITY ARTILLERY ROCKET SYSTEMS (HIMARS) – souce wikipedia


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