France OKs Rafale Missiles For Ukraine; Germany Rejects Arming Kyiv With Long-Range Taurus ALCMs

On January 17, German legislators rejected a proposal to provide Taurus long-range cruise missiles to Ukraine. This decision came a day after France declared its commitment to deliver an additional 40 Scalp air-launched cruise missiles that are used on Rafale fighters.

The proposal, introduced by the center-right opposition Christian Democrats, faced a resounding rejection in the Bundestag, with 485 votes against and only 178 in favor. Only two members outside the opposition CDU/CSU faction supported the proposal. 

The decision to send Taurus long-range cruise missiles to Ukraine now rests with Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who, citing concerns about escalating tensions, has previously opposed such aid, fearing it could broaden the conflict by extending the range of potential strikes on Russian territory from Kyiv.

Bundestag Defense Committee Chairwoman Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmerman attributed the defeat of the resolution to ‘partisan’ maneuvering, accusing the CDU/CSU of attempting a “clumsy PR stunt” by linking the missile proposal to a broader debate on Germany’s military capabilities.  

Despite many lawmakers supporting sending Taurus missiles to Ukraine, they voted against the resolution due to the perceived political gamesmanship. 

Taurus KEPD 350 - Wikipedia
Taurus KEPD 350 – Wikipedia

A future request, encompassing Taurus missiles and additional aid for Ukraine, is expected to reach Chancellor Scholz by February at the latest. 

Notably, Scholz has previously been cautious about approving Taurus deliveries, contrasting with France and the United Kingdom, which have supplied Ukraine with similar longer-range munitions.

Meanwhile, on January 16, French President Emmanuel Macron announced plans to deliver an additional 40 SCALP missiles and hundreds of other bombs to Ukraine in the coming weeks, bolstering Kyiv’s military capabilities. 

The incorporation of additional SCALP missiles will significantly enhance Ukraine’s ability to launch a more significant number of attacks on Russian positions. 

Macron emphasized the importance of preventing a Russian victory in Ukraine, stating it would violate international law.

The new missile deliveries offer critical support to Ukraine at a time when military backing from several close allies is uncertain.

In the United States, Senate Republicans have obstructed President Joe Biden’s requests for additional funding, insisting that their conditions for financing related to the US southern border must be addressed before any further allocations are approved. 

As a member of the European Union, Hungary has delayed approximately $52 billion worth of support from the bloc.  

Germany’s Taurus Versus SCALP

The latest rejection of the proposal to supply Taurus long-range cruise missiles to Ukraine marks a significant setback for Kyiv, which has persistently sought Germany’s support. 

Ukraine and its advocates had pointed out that both the United Kingdom and France had already provided similar cruise missiles, such as the Storm Shadow/SCALP, which have proven effective in striking strategic military targets deep within Russian-occupied territory. 

The Storm Shadow/SCALP missiles, with a range exceeding 155 miles, have allowed Ukraine to target warehouses, repair depots, and bridges in regions under Russian control.  

While the Taurus missile is comparable to the British Storm Shadow and French SCALP, it features a MEPHISTO (multi-effect penetrator highly sophisticated and target-optimized) warhead that may offer enhanced effectiveness in penetrating and shattering bridge spans.

Ukraine has frequently used Storm Shadow missiles to target bridges, albeit with varying degrees of success. 

Zelensky can be seen signing a SCALP-EG missile
Zelensky can be seen signing a SCALP-EG missile.

One notable difference between the missiles lies in their engines. While the Storm Shadow and SCALP are equipped with turbojets, the Taurus features a more modern turbofan engine. 

The turbofan design, characterized by a front fan that efficiently directs air through the engine core, provides the Taurus with added range compared to its counterparts. 

Officially boasting a range of over 310 miles, the Taurus missile’s extended reach could allow Ukrainian forces to target Russian bases across Crimea and eastern Ukraine comprehensively. 

Recently, Friedrich Merz, the leader of Germany’s opposition Christian Democratic Union (CDU), has explicitly emphasized the potential of Taurus cruise missiles to destroy the Russian-built Crimean bridge. 

Merz has urged the German government to reconsider and supply these missiles to Ukraine, highlighting the strategic impact they could have in the ongoing conflict. 

Additionally, the langer range would enable Ukrainian aircraft to launch from a safer distance within Ukrainian-controlled airspace.  

Even with a majority vote in favor of supplying Taurus in the Bundestag, the final decision on arms exports ultimately rests with the federal government, particularly within the purview of the Federal Security Council.