23 March 2011

Tomahawk vs. Storm Shadow Part 2

Further to my last, here's another comparison that makes you wonder WTF the Storm Shadow was ever ordered.

Tornado GR4
Combat range with 2 external tanks and 2 Storm Shadow: 972 km
Range of Storm Shadow: 250 km
Combined combat range Tornado/Storm Shadow without air-to-air refuelling: 1,222 km


Range: 2,500 km

Since entire coast of Libya is within 2,500 km of London, a sub sitting in the Thames could have done the same job as the Tornados and their refuelling tankers, more accurately and at a fraction of the cost.


  1. As I did a fact-checking comment on the last post, I may as well do one on this as well!

    Tornado GR4 range with two large "hindenburger" 495 gallon drop tanks and two Stormshadow is probably closer to 1650km in a straight line than 1400km (that's the hi-lo-hi range with two standard 330 gallon tanks and eight 1000lb bombs). The straight line range of Stormshadow is actually classified, with the only official figure being "greater than 250km". However the French operate the same missile under the name "Scalp ER", and they let slip some years ago that their missile has a range of 400km. If these figures are correct, then the combined range is obviously over 2000km. However in the real world the normal operational radius is much less due to the requirement to dodge around enemy air defenses and attack the target from unexpected directions.

    The range of Tomahawk rather depends on which variant you are buying, the conventional block IV that the RN has is supposed to have a range of "only" 1600km, according to this page: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/munitions/bgm-109-specs.htm

    Also you can't ignore the difference in warhead. While both missiles have a 1000lb class warhead, Tomahawk uses a conventional unitary one, while Stormshadow has a more complex (and expensive) duel warhead that is better at penetrated tough concrete bunkers and damaging what's inside. The first warhead being a shaped charge that blasts a hole into the target, allowing the second charge to drop through the hole and explode inside. The cost/benefit of the more complex duel warhead is debatable, but can't be so bad if the USN are willing to buy the same system for their JSOW-C glide bombs (while the USAF considered it but eventually declined for their JASSM).

  2. christopher ledger, Idarat Maritime24 March 2011 at 17:31

    How absolutely right! Never trust the Tories on defence!
    The RAF are not known as crabs by the other 2 services for nothing by the way!
    Those of us who have served have myriad stories of a similar nature. Indeed it had not been for the Fleet Air Arm support I got in the far off days of Aden Confrontation I would not be here today; Th crabs refused to fly because it was too dangerous - luckily not so the FAA, bless em! The Navy have been badly let down by very poor flag officers and even worse staff work yet none have had the decency to resign - the spirit or the RN is certainly dying with MoD flag officers having completely lost the trust of their men, especially the officers. The attitude of the key players in the ME has also shifted significantly as I know from personal experience over the last 2 months. No naval force projection= no respect. As one SNO from a Gulf state said to me a couple of weeks ago - you are no more use than the Belgian or Dutch navy to us now so why should we listen to your politician's promises of help!

  3. Thanks, AKM. I have a range of 2,500 for US Navy SLCM and assumed RN would be the same. Can't imagine why not. I'd cocked up my maths when I first posted on Tornado's range. Combat range, of course is how far you can go before you have to turn back, which makes my figure still too generous if yours is correct.

  4. With you all the way, Christopher. I have looked at it from all angles and the only explanation I can come up with for the Tories being so consistently dmaging on defence is that so many of them end up on the boards of defence contractors. Don't forget a cancelled contract is usually very profitable for the contractor, plus their product is never put to the test, for which they are very thankful.