TechGerman parliament shifts stance on supplying TAURUS KEPD 350 missiles to Ukraine

German parliament shifts stance on supplying TAURUS KEPD 350 missiles to Ukraine

TAURUS KEPD 350 missile
TAURUS KEPD 350 missile
Images source: © MBDA
9:28 AM EST, February 20, 2024

Initial discussions of Germany supplying Ukraine with powerful TAURUS KEPD 350 cruise missiles arose in the first half of 2023. However, a final decision was delayed due to hesitations amongst MPs from the SPD party, the dominant party in the current government.

Interestingly, the British attempted to circumvent this issue by offering larger quantities of Storm Shadow missiles in exchange for German missiles. The passing of Alexei Navalny appears to have influenced the SPD's support for supplying Ukraine with these much-needed missiles capable of striking deep within Russian territory.

TAURUS KEPD 350: Germany's bunker and bridge annihilator

The TAURUS KEPD 350, a cruise missile developed through a joint venture between Berlin and Stockholm, was initiated in the 1990s. During the 1980s, Germany undertook a search for a cruise missile, subsequently joining the French Apache missile program, which later evolved into the Storm Shadow.

Due to political reasons, Germany eventually withdrew from this program and opted to create its device with assistance from Sweden. The product of this collaboration is the TAURUS KEPD 350, which is short for Kinetic Energy Penetration Destroyer and was introduced in 2005.

The TAURUS KEPD 350 is a cruise missile capable of covering over 311 miles. It incorporates stealth technology for launch from aircraft and measures 16.4 ft in length, and weighs 3086 lbs, with the dual-function MEPHISTO (Multi-Effect Penetrator Highly Sophisticated and Target Optimised) warhead accounting for 1058 lbs.

This warhead can operate like a standard fragmentation warhead upon impact, explode in the air to scatter shrapnel over a large radius or delay its detonation. This mode of operation echoes the Storm Shadow, but the TAURUS KEPD 350 offers features not found in its competitors when attacking bunkers.

While setting a manual delay on other missiles is required based on target characteristics, with the TAURUS, one can choose the "detonate after overcoming the second obstacle" mode. The MEPHISTO warhead features sensors that detect obstacles and empty spaces, eliminating room for error and enhancing the effectiveness of the attack.

A turbojet engine ensures the missile's delivery to its target, providing a high subsonic speed (about 0.8-0.9 Ma) even at several dozen meters altitude. The missile also features a sophisticated guidance system that utilizes not only the common inertial and satellite navigation pair but also includes an optoelectronic head equipped with a fourth-generation IR sensor that detects the thermal image of the target, allowing for jamming.

This is used not only for guidance during the final flight phase and confirmation of successful target hits but also for terrain mapping, which is compared with a pre-loaded digital map. Implementing such a system is expensive, but it ensures the missile's operation in environments where GPS navigation is jammed or unavailable.

For the Ukrainians, this would be an invaluable resource enabling, among other things, the potential destruction of the Crimean Bridge. The likely launch vehicles for these missiles would be Su-24s, which already host the Storm Shadow.

Related content