Storm Shadow makes combat debut with Typhoon

A Royal Air Force (RAF)-operated Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 has fired an MBDA Storm Shadow for the first time in combat, having used the air-launched cruise missile to strike a target in Iraq on March 10.

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) revealed on March 15 that the munition had been used to strike a cave complex – located to the southwest of the city of Erbil in northern Iraq – which was being used by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) forces. It detailed that two Typhoon FGR4s were tasked to conduct strikes in support of ground forces from the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service.

Typhoon FGR4 [MoD Crown Copyright/Cpl Steve Buckley]
An RAF-operated Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 - serial ZK344 (c/n 384) - takes off from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus on March 10, 2021. Note that the aircraft is equipped with MBDA's Storm Shadow air-launched cruise missile, which is the dark grey and yellow munition on the multi-role fighter's underwing pylon. MoD Crown Copyright/Cpl Steve Buckley

“[The aircraft] conducted surveillance of the area to confirm that there were no signs of civilians who might be place at risk, before conducting the first attack using Storm Shadow missiles, which had been selected as the most appropriate weapon for the task. Following the mission, the Typhoon’s weapons were confirmed to have struck their targets precisely,” the MoD added.

This employment marked the first combat use of the cruise missile from the Typhoon FGR4, after it was integrated onto the multi-role fighter as part of Project Centurion in 2018. The munition had been previously employed by the RAF’s fleet of Panavia Tornado GR4 ground attack/strike aircraft until the platform was retired from UK service in April 2019.

MBDA’s Storm Shadow air-launched cruise missile has been developed to offer a highly flexible, deep-strike capability to its operators. It has been designed with low-observable features to reduce its radar cross-section (RCS) and is launched from stand-off ranges, striking pre-planned targets using a sophisticated mission planning system. The firm boasts that the munition has a range “in excess” of 250km. At 5.10m in length and weighing 1,300kg each, the Eurofighter Typhoon can carry two Storm Shadow missiles in one sortie.