MBDA Taurus KEPD 350: Strike Deep Underneath

The MBDA Taurus KEPD 350 represents an ambitious programme commenced in 1998 by pooling the industrial capabilities in the field of precision stand-off guided missile systems of LFK-Lenkflugkörpersysteme GmbH (now MBDA Deutschland), near Munich, with those of Bofors in Karlskoga, Sweden. This led to the setting up of a joint venture company, TAURUS Systems GmbH, based in Schrobenhausen, Germany, responsible for the development, production, marketing and logistical support of the Taurus stand-off weapon system. The Taurus KEPD 350 (Kinetic Energy Penetration Destroyer) weapon system is a modular cruise missile type weapon initially developed for the German Air Force Tornado IDS strike fighters, yet can also be adapted for F/A-18, Rafale, Gripen and Eurofighter Typhoon. Taurus KEPD 350 also had an extremely short development time, which began in 1998 and completed final testing in March 2004 and thereby officially entered the German Air Force service with the 33 Strike Wing on 21 December 2005. 

Five metres long, 1,400 kg KEPD 350 has a range beyond 100 km and is equipped with the MEPHISTO tandem penetration warhead which can effectively engage stationary fortified targets such as underground bunkers and shelters whilst avoiding collateral damage. MEPHISTO is based on a large tandem warhead concept comprising a precursor/shaped charge and a high explosive filled kinetic energy penetrator. To trigger the penetrator charge in order to achieve optimum damage, Taurus uses the world’s first smart active decision-making hard target fuse, the Programmable Intelligent Multi-Purpose Fuse (PIMPF). Its shock sensor and intelligent signal-processing algorithm determines impacts and exits of hard layers and thus detects and counts layers and voids. Reliable autonomous navigation is provided by fusion of sensor data from three sensors and includes Image Based Navigation (IBN), Terrain Reference Navigation (TRN) and MIL-GPS subsystems, as the use of such fusion enables the Taurus KEPD 350 to navigate over long distances without GPS support. The mission planning system do support planning and preparation of terrain-hugging flight paths at high subsonic speeds and terminal targeting in order to penetrate enemy air defences, loaded into the weapon by the ground loader Unit. As with MBDA SCALP/Storm Shadow, during terminal phase in combination with passive high resolution Imaging Infra-Red (IIR) sensors with Autonomous Target Recognition (ATR) system with highly sophisticated line extraction algorithm, the missile retains considerable autonomous operations capability over long ranges. As a future enhancement the use of a data link for is examined for confirmation of a correctly performed mission and partial BDA.

Sayan Majumdar