What are these long-range Taurus missiles that Ukraine is asking Germany for?

What are the features of the long-range missiles that Kyiv asks Berlin for, and how powerful are they?

In our information space, a contradictory picture has already emerged regarding the prospects of transferring German Taurus cruise missiles to the Armed Forces. Some sources claim that there is a consensus among factions of the Bundestag in favor of the decision to transfer such missiles to Ukraine. 

In others, it is detailed that the German government has not actually made any decision on Taurus yet. And if you read the German press carefully, it follows that German politicians say they are ready to give Taurus only after the USA gives Ukraine ATACMS.

In any case, all of the above is an important reason to remind about the characteristics of Taurus missiles and why they are so important for Ukraine.

Perhaps the most important feature of the Taurus is that this missile is similar to the Storm Shadow and SCALP-EG in that all three missiles were developed as part of a joint project, and the manufacturer of all three is the MBDA Corporation.

Accordingly, the characteristics of the German Taurus cruise missile also look identical to the previous two missiles that are already at the disposal of the Armed Forces: launch mass – 1360 kg, in particular, the warhead – 481 kg, fuselage length – 5.1 meters, fuselage width – 1.08 meters, the launch range is approximately 500 km, the flight speed is subsonic, up to Mach 0.95, that is, up to 1000 km/h.

A separate feature is precisely in the combat part since the MEPHISTO tandem concrete-piercing warhead is used here to strike both fortified targets and infrastructure facilities.

         Taurus KEPD 350 long-range cruise missile, illustrative photo by MBDA Deutchland
Taurus KEPD 350 long-range cruise missile, illustrative photo by MBDA Germany

The question of adapting these cruise missiles to Soviet-type aircraft always arises when it comes to Western air-based cruise missiles that can be transferred to the Armed Forces. But here, it seems that in the case of Taurus, the issue of adaptation will be solved in the same way as with its “sisters” of the Storm Shadow and SCALP-EG types – that is, the “upgrade” of the Su-24M using the pylon-“adapter” from the Tornado strike aircraft.

Sometimes in our media space, long-range air-based cruise missiles that the Armed Forces of Ukraine have already received are called “ATACMS analogs.” But this is by no means a true comparison. Because, for example, in the case of Taurus (or Storm Shadow and SCALP-EG) and ATACMS, there is only one thing in common – a launch range of more than 150 km.

Because the same ATACMS is an operational-tactical land-based ballistic missile, only M142 HIMARS and M270 can be used for its launch. Depending on the modification and warhead equipment, the ATACMS launch range can vary from 160 km to 300 km. And since this is a ballistic missile, the flight speed here exceeds Mach 3, or more than 3 thousand km/h.

The difference in characteristics also determines the difference in the functionality of both missiles: if the Armed Forces need ATACMS as a “long arm” on the battlefield, then Taurus (or its “sisters” Storm Shadow and SCALP-EG) – to temporarily destroy the rear facilities of the Russian army occupied territories. But on the other hand, the Taurus and ATACMS were needed by the Armed Forces “yesterday,” which raises the question of these missiles.