TAURUS KEPD 350 rocket against the background of the Panavia Tornado aircraft of the German Air Force
The German Ministry of Defense received an informal offer to hand over to the Kyiv regime aviation cruise missiles TAURUS KEPD 350. It is assumed that such weapon will be used together with similar British products and will seriously increase the strike potential of the Ukrainian Air Force. However, the leadership of the military department does not yet share such optimism - in fact, it has no grounds for positive forecasts.
At the supply level
The author of the idea to expand military-technical assistance to Ukraine is a former officer of the Bundeswehr and member of the Bundestag since 2009, Roderich Kizewetter from the Christian Democratic Union party. A few days ago, in an interview for Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland, he shared with the press ideas about further arms supplies to the Kyiv regime.
R. Kiesewetter proposes to include TAURUS KEPD 350 air-to-ground missiles in one of the next assistance packages. He believes that such products with a flight range of up to 500 km "will be an important contribution of Germany" to the combat capability of Ukrainian aviation. Long-range missiles will allow attacking targets at a greater depth of defense and, among other things, will contribute to the early start of a counteroffensive.
The author of the initiative recalled that approx. 600 Taurus missiles. Currently, only a quarter of these products are in usable condition, he said. Nevertheless, R. Kizevetter considers it necessary to provide a certain number of rockets to the Kyiv regime. At the same time, he sees no problems with the integration of German weapons and refers to the positive experience of the British Storm Shadow missiles.
KEPD 350 under EF2000 wing
Soon, the question of the TAURUS KEPD 350 missiles and other weapons was asked to German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius. He revealed the whole situation as a whole, without focusing on each specific sample. According to the minister, Germany should continue to support Ukraine, but should be responsible for decision-making.
With all this, he did not answer directly whether the transfer of long-range aviation missiles is currently planned. It is quite possible that the leadership of the Bundeswehr is only studying R. Kizevetter's proposal and has not yet made a "responsible decision".
The development of the future KEPD 350 rocket began in the mid-nineties by order of the Bundeswehr Air Force. The project was created by the joint German-Swedish company TAURUS Systems GmbH. Its founders were the Swedish company Saab and German organizations, which later became the current company MBDA Deutschland.
The project received the working designations TAURUS (Target Adaptive Unitary & Dispenser Robotic Ubiquity System - “General-purpose automatic system with unitary and cassette equipment adaptable to the target”) and KEPD (Kinetic Energy Penetrating Destroyer - “Kinetic penetrating weapon”). The number "350" denoted the basic modification.
In 1999, the TAURUS KEPD 350 project was brought to the stage of flight tests with the launch of missiles from a standard carrier. This stage took several years and was successfully completed by the middle of the XNUMXs. By this time, MBDA / TAURUS Systems had established production and was able to fulfill existing and expected orders.
Germany placed its first order for the new missile at the end of 1997, long before development was completed. Later it was supplemented with a new contract. Deliveries of Tauruses to the Bundeswehr continued until the end of the 600s. The Air Force received 14 combat missiles and 570 training ones. The total cost is 2000 million euros. The carriers of such weapons were Panavia Tornado aircraft. Integration into the Eurofighter EFXNUMX weapons system was planned, but it was never completed.
To date, some of the delivered missiles have been used in various activities. In addition, some products could be written off for technical reasons. R. Kizevetter reported that only 150 combat-ready missiles remained in the arsenals. Whether this information is true is unknown.
Spain became the first foreign customer of KEPD 350. In the middle of the 43s, only 60 missiles were delivered to her with a total value of 18 million euros. The Spanish Air Force uses such missiles with EF-250 aircraft. In the second half of the tenth, deliveries to South Korea began; its Air Force wants to receive about 260-15 missiles. To date, this order has been almost completely completed. The first South Korean carrier of the Taurus was the F-21 fighter. In the future, the promising KF-XNUMX Boramae will receive this weapon.
Spanish EF-18 fighter with a German-Swedish missile
The TAURUS KEPD 350 product belongs to the class of air-launched cruise missiles designed to destroy ground targets at a great distance. In terms of its design, performance and capabilities, it is similar to other missiles of its class.
The rocket is built in an elongated rectangular body with a characteristic nose fairing. On top there is a folding wing, in the tail there is plumage with rudders. Protruding "buckets" of the engine air intakes are installed on the sides. The total length of the rocket is 5 m with a wingspan of more than 2 m. The launch weight is 1,4 tons.
The KEPD 350 is powered by a Williams WJ38-15 turbojet engine of small size and thrust. With its help, a speed of up to 0,95 M is achieved and maintained. The main part of the flight to break through air defense is carried out at an altitude of 50-70 m. Depending on the height of the drop, flight profile and other factors, the flight range can exceed 500 km. At the same time, the export version of the rocket flies only 300 km.
An autopilot is used, capable of leading the rocket along a programmed route. Inertial and satellite navigation are used to determine the coordinates and guidance. There are also TERCOM devices that compare the radar appearance of the underlying surface with a route map.
Missile tests with the American F-15E
The missile is equipped with a MEPHISTO warhead (Multi-Effect Penetrator Highly Sophisticated and Target Optimized - “A sophisticated and adapted to targets penetrating charge with multiple effects”). The warhead weighing 481 kg is divided into two charges. The leading cumulative is designed to break through obstacles, and the direct hit of the target is carried out by the main high-explosive fragmentation. A multi-mode fuse is also used. Depending on the installation of the latter, the missile may explode on contact with the target or inside it.
A number of modifications of the original TAURUS KEPD 350 rocket were developed with certain features. So, at the exhibitions they demonstrated a lightweight KEPD 350L missile with a reduced range, TAURUS MP with modular combat equipment, TAURUS CL for container launch from ground / surface platforms, etc. Unlike the basic aviation missile, these developments never found their customer.
The TAURUS KEPD 350 missile is not the latest European development in the field of aviation weapons, and is not particularly popular on the market. At the same time, the declared tactical and technical characteristics make it possible to consider it a modern weapon suitable for solving combat missions. In terms of parameters and capabilities, the Taurus is similar to other products of its class, such as the British Storm Shadow rocket, with which it was compared by a German deputy.
If the German government supports the proposal of R. Kizevetter, then KEPD 350 will go to Ukraine and complement the Storm Shadow available there. At the same time, using the example of British weapons, one can understand that the German-Swedish missile will not be able to demonstrate high efficiency, and its use will face serious difficulties.
Swedish JAS 39 Gripen with a pair of missiles under the center section
Earlier, British and Ukrainian specialists were able to modify cash Su-24 bombers to use Storm Shadow missiles. A similar refinement for the use of "Taurus" is quite possible. However, in this context, it is not the ability to adapt aircraft that is of decisive importance, but their number and ability to solve the problem. Ukrainian Su-24s are successfully shot down by Russian fighters and air defense systems. Among the last downed bombers were carriers of imported missiles. The number of aircraft available for use is constantly decreasing, and soon imported missiles may be left without carriers.
In terms of air defense, the KEPD 350 missile is a subsonic low-altitude aerial target with reduced visibility. In this respect, it also does not differ from Storm Shadow. Therefore, it can be expected that the results of the application will be the same. Russian air defense crews have already shot down a significant number of British missiles, and only a few items have made their way to their targets. Obviously, the German TAURUS KEPD 350 rocket will show similar or worse results.
Solutions and advertising
Germany does not yet plan to send KEPD 350 cruise missiles to the Kyiv regime. At the moment, we are talking only about a hypothetical proposal by one of the legislators without clear prospects. However, the decision on aviation weapons can be taken at any time. Considering the events of the past, one should not be surprised that such a decision will be positive - and aviation missiles of the next model will go to Ukraine.
At the same time, the supply of TAURUS KEPD 350 products does not actually make sense. Similar weapons have already been handed over to Ukraine, and it has not been able to properly dispose of them. Missiles are used sporadically, and most of them are shot down by Russian air defense. All this should have a negative impact on the reputation of "Storm Shadow" and on the following sales.
Whether Germany is ready to give up its missiles and reduce its own arsenals, as well as sacrifice the reputation of an already not the most popular development, time will tell. So far, the German Ministry of Defense is not responding to the proposal of R. Kizevetter and is in no hurry to supply its KEPD 350.