According to reports in the German media, the German government is considering sending Taurus air-launched cruise missiles to Ukraine as part of an upcoming military aid package.
Reports claim that Germany has already approved the transfer of 30 Taurus missiles, which have a range of 500 kilometres and can carry a 480-kilogram warhead. The missiles are designed to penetrate and destroy hardened targets such as bunkers and bridges.
The Taurus missiles, which are manufactured by a joint venture between the German company MBDA and the Swedish company Saab, are compatible with the Ukrainian Air Force’s Sukhoi Su-24 aircraft that is currently employed as the launch platform for the British-supplied Storm Shadow and French-supplied SCALP air-launched cruise missiles.
Following the reports on Friday, a German government spokesperson said there was “no new information” on the status of potential Taurus missile deliveries to Ukraine.
“Germany is focusing on heavy artillery, armoured vehicles and air defence systems. There is no new information on the Taurus cruise missile,” said the spokesperson.
According to Der Spiegel, the German Defence Ministry has asked Taurus’ manufacturer to integrate programming restrictions on possible targets into long-range cruise missiles. With these changes German Chancellor Olaf Scholz aims to avoid the possibility of Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory, the publication reported.
Taurus KEPD 350
The Taurus KEPD 350 is a product of Taurus Systems GmbH, a joint venture between MBDA Deutschland GmbH and Saab Bofors Dynamics. The development of the missile started in 1998 and was completed in 2005.
The missile is designed to penetrate hardened and deeply buried targets, such as bunkers, command and control centres, as well as airfields, ports, ammunition depots, ships, and bridges.
The missile has a dual-stage warhead called MEPHISTO (multi-effect penetrator highly sophisticated and target optimised), which consists of a pre-charge and an initial penetrating charge to clear soil or enter the target, followed by a main charge with a variable delay fuze to detonate inside the target.
The missile is powered by a Williams WJ38-15 turbofan engine that allows it to fly at speeds of Mach 0.95 (about 1,150 km/h or 715 mph) at low altitudes of 30 to 70 m (98 to 230 ft) above the ground. The missile has a length of 5.1 m (16 ft 9 in), a diameter of 1.08 m (3 ft 7 in), a wingspan of 2.06 m (6 ft 9 in), and a weight of 1,400 kg (3,100 lb). The missile can be carried by various combat aircraft, such as Tornado, Eurofighter Typhoon, F/A-18 Hornet, F-15K Strike Eagle, and Gripen.
The missile uses a combination of inertial navigation system (INS), image-based navigation (IBN), terrain-referenced navigation (TRN), and global positioning system (GPS) to guide itself to the target. The missile also has a high-resolution infrared camera that can support the navigation and the target acquisition. The missile has stealth features that reduce its radar cross-section and infrared signature. The missile also has self-defence mechanisms and electronic countermeasures to evade enemy air defences.
The Taurus KEPD 350 is currently in service with Germany, Spain, and South Korea. Germany ordered 600 missiles in 2002 and received the first batch in 2005. Spain ordered 43 missiles in 2006 and received them in 2009. South Korea ordered 170 missiles in 2013 and received them in 2016. The missile has been tested and evaluated by several other countries, such as Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, India, and Turkey.
The Taurus KEPD 350 is one of the most advanced air-launched cruise missiles in the world. It offers a long-range, precise, stealthy, and versatile strike capability against hard and soft targets. It is a formidable weapon that can enhance the air power of any country that possesses it.