Taurus gets mounted thumbnailImage: MBDA Deutschland Taurus gets mounted thumbnailImage: MBDA Deutschland

Production, integration, and refurbishment of Taurus KEPD 350 could begin shortly

For many months, Ukraine has been asking the German government for the approval of a delivery of Taurus KEPD 350 cruise missiles, but Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz has so far refused to authorise their delivery to Ukraine.

Many reasons for this were already provided, most of them, but not all, have been debunked so far.

Now the public debate about the non-delivery is apparently entering the next round. Today, MBDA Deutschland — the shareholder of Taurus manufacturer TAURUS Systems — published a clear message on its X account.

“A new Taurus production, the platform integration and the refurbishment of stocks can all be initiated at short notice. The precondition is an order from the customer.”

Joachim Knopf, Managing Director TAURUS Systems GmbH

They have thus reconfirmed an announcement from November last year, stating that the production of the Taurus KEPD 350 could restart in the short term if an order is placed.

This statement and the X post are most likely a reaction to a Deutschlandfunk interview with Johannes Arlt, which was published today.

During the interview, the SPD member of the Bundestag’s Defence Committee stated that, in his opinion, the delivery of the cruise missiles would provide Ukraine with operational and tactical relief, but that the industry is currently not in a position to reproduce them in the short term.

Regarding Germany’s NATO alliance obligations, he is therefore against a delivery to Ukraine. To be more precise, Germany would be better advised not to deliver Taurus KEPD 350.

Taurus already mountedImage: MBDA Deutschland

When asked for an official statement on the interview, a company spokesperson from MBDA Deutschland referred me to the X post mentioned above, which they published about half an hour after my enquiry. Unfortunately, he didn’t give me an approximate time frame, whether we are talking about weeks or months.

In November last year, however, Janes reported that MBDA Deutschland managing director Thomas Gottschild announced during a press event that at least a year of preparation time would be needed for the launch of the production. Possibly even longer lead times for electronic components and explosives.

Fabian Hoffmann from the University of Oslo seems to share this assessment. The expert, who specialises in missile technology and nuclear strategy, estimates that the restart of production and the production time largely depend on the supply chain. He estimated that the first newly built cruise missile would roll off the production line in around 1.5 to 2.5 years.

According to Johannes Arlt, who had a conversation with MBDA Germany officials on the 22nd of January, three days after his interview, he was told that it would take 3 to 4 years, but he estimates that it was about a larger number of cruise missiles and not about the first newly produced one — “No specific number. But certainly more than one, five or 10”.

A time span that should actually be adequate for the estimated period of 5 to 8 years stated by Germany’s Minister of Defence Boris Pistorius until a possible attack by Russia on NATO territory.

Apart from that, other weapon systems such as the Leopard 2A6 or the PzH 2000, which Germany has handed over to Ukraine, are also being reproduced over such a period of time, and it is obviously not such a big problem there.

Both of these systems will rejoin the Bundeswehr from 2025 to 2026 — in the case of the MBTs even in the 2A8 version. The 50 ATF Dingos handed over to Ukraine will also be replaced in the Bundeswehr in 2026. Around 3.5 years after being handed over to Ukraine, around 2.5 years after the contract with KNDS was signed.

As stated in the X post, the refurbishment of the cruise missiles in the Bundeswehr’s inventory can also be started at short notice. In September 2023, Pistorius announced during a panel discussion that Germany has more than 500 Taurus KEPD 350 in its inventory, half of which are not up-to-date and the other half need to be updated and programmed.

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According to FDP defence politician Marcus Faber — who is also in favour of supplying the cruise missiles to Ukraine — around 150 Taurus KEPD 350 are ready for deployment.

A quick order for refurbishment would therefore compensate for the delivery of a double-digit number of cruise missiles to Ukraine until the arrival of newly produced ones.

Of course, we should not forget that the Taurus must first be integrated into the Ukrainian platform and then personnel must be trained. This will take around six months, enough time for at least a few cruise missiles to be refurbished — but more on that later.

Finally, we must not forget that this will again cost a lot of money. We are most likely talking about a three-digit million sum, which would be spent via the special fund of the Bundeswehr and would therefore not be available for other projects. This will certainly also play into the assessment of the situation.

According to MBDA Deutschland, the integration of the Taurus into the Su-24 aircraft can also begin in the short term. Joachim Knopf, Managing Director at TAURUS Systems, estimates that the integration of the cruise missile into the platform and training of Ukrainian personnel would be completed in around 6 months.

Johannes Arlt also said today in the interview with Deutschlandfunk regarding the integration of Taurus that Ukraine has proven that it “acts very creatively” and “can use the weapons very well”.

Taurus KEPD-350 sensorImage: MBDA Deutschland

Even if these are, of course, mostly excellent arguments that favour a possible delivery, it will certainly take a little while before there is a new situation.

According to leading politicians in the governing parties who favour the delivery of the Taurus KEPD 350 but voted against the CDU motion in the Bundestag a few days ago, their own motion is to be submitted to the Bundestag in February, which will also include the delivery of the cruise missiles.

At least until then, i.e. until the second anniversary of the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine, we will have to be patient.

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  • 20th of January 2024 — Paragraph on re-procured Bundeswehr equipment (Leopard 2A6, PzH 2000 and ATF Dingos) added
  • 27th of January 2024 — Paragraph about a statement by Johannes Arlt after a phone call with MBDA Germany added

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