Air Weapons: Taurus Overcomes Chinese Spies


November 1, 2016: In October 2016 South Korea began receiving the first of the 170 Taurus stealthy cruise missiles it ordered in 2013. South Korea needs the Taurus missiles for their F-15K fighter bombers, which can launch Taurus from off the east or west coasts of North Korea and quickly destroy numerous key targets. South Korea and the Taurus manufacturer are still finishing work on the modifications to the F-15K fire control system so it can handle the Taurus. That should be complete by early 2017 at which point test launches can be conducted and the Taurus can enter service with the South Korean Air Force.

Taurus was developed by German and Swedish firms and entered service in 2005. It is a 1.4 ton cruise missile that has a range of over 500 kilometers and a cruising speed of about 1,100 kilometers an hour. It travels at low altitude (35 meters/112 feet). Taurus uses a half ton (481 kg) warhead that has special features for penetrating well protected underground bunkers. Taurus costs about $1.2 million each.

Delivery was delayed for nearly a year because the United States was reluctant to sell South Korea a top secret military grade GPS receiver that has proved to be immune to known North Korean GPS jammers. The U.S. has been reluctant to export key electronic devices to East Asian allies because of the ease with which Chinese spies are getting access to military secrets in South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. Chinese espionage has been successful in the United States as well, but not to the extent it has with its East Asian neighbors. South Korea, Japan and Taiwan are working hard to cope with the espionage problem and the United States has been relenting on a case-by-case basis with some key tech. Given the increasing aggressiveness of North Korea, it seemed prudent to get Taurus delivered as soon as possible.


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