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Defense Express: Berlin refrains from sending Taurus to Ukraine over low stockpile

Germany’s ability to provide Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine is constrained by low inventory numbers, according to Defense Express, with only 150 currently in service out of an original 2002 order for 600.
A German Tornado IDS during a test launch of the Taurus missile in South Africa. Bundeswehr/Adolfs
Defense Express: Berlin refrains from sending Taurus to Ukraine over low stockpile

The reason why Berlin is not providing Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine could be unrelated to the political or diplomatic sphere but to their low quantity, Defense Express reports.

Speaking to RND, retired German colonel and CDU MP Roderich Kiesewetter explained that there are only 150 Taurus missiles in service in the German air force, and only 600 were produced in 2002. 

According to Defense Express, it is far from certain that even all 150 of the declared cruise missiles are operational.

Colonel Kiesewetter told that, theoretically, Germany has a reserve of 450 missiles that could be supplied to Ukraine, if they could be restored. 

In the debate about a possible transfer of Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine on 11 August, Olaf Scholz has expressed restraint: “there is no new state of affairs to report on the Taurus delivery.” He emphasized that Berlin was focused on sending air defense systems, tanks, and heavy artillery.

“That is the course we will continue, in close consultation with our international partners,” Scholz said.

The German Defense Ministry also said that “there will be no new information regarding the Taurus cruise missile,” BILD reported.

The debate over providing Taurus missiles to Ukraine began after politicians from governing parties and the opposition argued that giving Ukraine this long-range weapon system could destroy bunkers and protect command posts at ranges of up to 500 kilometers.

The Defense Ministry, however, reiterated in response that there was no change in policy regarding the potential provision of these missiles. Supporters view supplying Taurus missiles as another step in bolstering Ukraine’s defense capabilities against Russian attacks.

According to the German Ministry of Defense, Kyiv requested the delivery of Taurus cruise missiles on 26 April 2023. However, Defense Minister Pistorius has repeatedly rejected this possibility.

In late July, several German politicians called on the government to follow the UK and France in supplying Ukraine with Taurus missiles from Bundeswehr stockpiles.

On 11 August, Tagesschau reported that the German government had “apparently given up its refusal to deliver Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine” but with restrictions to the targeting software to prevent attacks on Russia.

The Taurus KEPD 350 is a German-Swedish air-launched cruise missile manufactured by Taurus Systems, a collaboration between MBDA Germany and Saab Dynamics. Taurus missiles are designed for precision strikes against heavily fortified targets and range around 500 km. These missiles can carry a 481 kg warhead and employ a stealthy design to evade radar detection.

Additionally, they are equipped with a dual-stage warhead that can penetrate several meters of hardened concrete before detonating, making them especially effective against bunkers and other reinforced structures. Taurus missiles are in service with the air forces of Germany, Spain, and South Korea.

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