Taurus cruise missile: what’s behind the weapon?

Taurus cruise missile: what’s behind the weapon?

According to a CDU MP, Germany should make the Taurus cruise missile available to Ukraine. This adds to the list of state-of-the-art Western weapons systems to be delivered to the Ukrainian armed forces. What’s the deal with this weapon?

By Kai Stoppel

This article first appeared on n-tv.de

Western allies have provided Ukraine with a new type of weapon: cruise missiles. They provide Ukrainian forces with the ability to attack targets far behind enemy Russian lines. Great Britain already had the . Union defense politician Roderich Kiesewetter is now also bringing this into play. What is it?

The Taurus is basically the German-Swedish counterpart to the British-French Storm Shadow. Like this, it is a high-precision stand-off weapon that flies hundreds of kilometers to its target on its own. The Taurus is also launched from an airplane at a great distance from the target. The route to the destination is completely pre-programmed.

The manufacturer of the cruise missile is Taurus Systems GmbH based in Schrobenhausen, Bavaria. Behind it is a network of European armaments companies. Taurus Systems is 67 percent owned by the German subsidiary of the large missile company MBDA and 33 percent by Saab Dynamics from Sweden.

The Taurus cruise missile: small and difficult to detect

Cruise missiles like Taurus offer the attacker a great advantage: not only does it have a long range, but it is also difficult for enemy air defense to detect and therefore difficult to combat. At five meters long and only about a meter wide, it is much smaller than a fighter jet. In addition, Taurus flies at an altitude of only about 50 meters, which allows it to fly under enemy air defense systems. It is not exactly known how far the deployment radius of Taurus actually is. Its range is officially specified as at least 500 kilometers.

Taurus has sophisticated navigation to find its destination. These include satellite-supported GPS and two systems with which the missile finds its way using a stored elevation profile of the landscape and prominent points such as bridges and intersections. There is also a gyro compass as a backup. The bombs, which cost around one million euros (as of 2005), fly to their target at a speed just under the speed of sound.

Strategically important goals in view

The cruise missile is primarily designed to destroy immovable and heavily fortified targets, such as command bunkers or bridges, which have high strategic value and hit the enemy sensitively. The approach angle can be pre-programmed before take-off. If it hits the target, a so-called tandem warhead ignites. A shaped charge first blasts a hole in the target, such as a bunker. A penetrator, an explosive-filled steel projectile about two meters long, penetrates the target and explodes inside. Taurus has about half a ton of explosives on board.

The German Air Force has so far launched the Taurus from Tornado fighter planes. It is still unclear whether and how Soviet-style fighter jets, such as those used in the Ukrainian Air Force, can take off. The unit price in 2005 was around one million euros. The German Air Force owns around 600 units of the Taurus, of which only 150 are currently operational. Spain and South Korea also use the cruise missile.

Source: Stern

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