UK offers Taurus missile swap with Germany for more Storm Shadows to arm Ukraine 

Peter R Foster IDMA /

The United Kingdom has proposed a weapon exchange to address Germany’s concerns over long-range missile delivery to Ukraine. 

According to sources cited by Handelsblatt, London is seeking Taurus cruise missiles from Berlin, in exchange for supplying additional SCALP-EG/Storm Shadow cruise missiles to Ukraine. 

The proposal aims to provide Ukraine with more advanced weaponry capable of striking deeper within Russian-occupied territory. Germany has been under pressure from Kyiv to supply its Taurus missiles. 

“The British offer has been on the table for several weeks,” a source told the German daily. “It would offer [German Chancellor Olaf] Scholz a welcome opportunity to defuse the controversy within the coalition.” 

On January 17, 2024, a motion proposing the delivery of Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine was rejected in the Bundestag, the German parliament, by a majority vote 

Not an equivalent replacement

The potential deal, still under consideration by Scholz’s office, has sparked mixed reactions within Germany. For instance, some have argued that the Luftwaffe would first need to secure funding to replace any missiles provided to the Royal Air Force. 

“Ukraine needs Taurus, and it needs it now,” Chairwoman of the Defense Committee of the Bundestag, Marie-Agnès Strack-Zimmermann, commented. “Storm Shadow is not an equivalent replacement. In this respect, the proposal is unsuitable.” 

Though both missiles are ùanufactured by the European missile maker MBDA, the Taurus outshines the SCALP-EG/Storm Shadow with its advanced technology in handling the double explosive charge in its warhead. In contrast to the timed secondary explosions of its counterpart, the Taurus employs a layer counting and void detection system, ensuring unmatched precision in its strikes. This could, for example, allow Ukraine to target the pillar of a bridge after penetrating the deck.  

The offer comes in the wake of both the UK and France’s commitment to transfer around SCALP-EG/Storm Shadow cruise missiles to Ukraine, with the latter announcing a new delivery batch in January 2024.  

However, concerns persist in Germany about potential escalation by supplying Ukraine with more advanced weapons that could reach targets deep inside Russia. Both the Storm Shadow and the Taurus missile have an operational range exceeding 500 kilometers (310 miles). 

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