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Germany Initiates European Reinforcement with Long-Range Missiles Amid the russian Threat

MdCN missile test at the launch site for rocket testing, France / Photo credit: DGA Essais de missiles
MdCN missile test at the launch site for rocket testing, France / Photo credit: DGA Essais de missiles
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The available options include the novel Land Cruise Missile and MdCN, but entirely new developments are not ruled out either

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has called for European countries to consolidate their efforts to close the long-range missile capabilities gap with russia. The aim is to sign a joint agreement of intent with as many European states as possible, committing to the development, production, and supply of long-range attack missiles at the NATO summit in Washington this July.

Pistorius made this announcement during a meeting with his French and Polish counterparts in the Weimar Triangle format, as reported by the German news website Hartpunkt. We at Defense Express add that Europe's focus on expanding missile capabilities is somewhat unique. Even during the Cold War, the European arm of NATO relied more on American missiles than on developing its own projects, which were rather fragmentary in nature.

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Defense ministers of the Weimar Triangle / Defense Express / Germany Initiates European Reinforcement with Long-Range Missiles Amid the russian Threat
Defense ministers of the Weimar Triangle: Boris Pistorius from Germany, Sébastien Lecornu from France, and Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz from Poland / Photo credit: Ministry of Defense of Germany

The intention to focus exclusively on European efforts stems from the real threat of being left without protection as the United States dismantles its status as a global guarantor of security. From this standpoint, building up industrial capabilities is both expected and the correct choice.

Several specific projects are apparent for Europe to invest in to achieve parity with russia in terms of long-range missile capability. During the recent Eurosatory 2024 defense exhibition in Paris, the European missile conglomerate MBDA demonstrated the Land Cruise Missile (LCM), an obvious candidate for the solution European countries are seeking.

Land Cruise Missile — LCM / Defense Express / Germany Initiates European Reinforcement with Long-Range Missiles Amid the russian Threat
Land Cruise Missile — LCM / Image credit: MBDA

This missile is specially designed for long-range precision-guided strikes and is a land-based version of the MdCN (Missile de Croisière Naval) cruise missile, also known as the NCM (Naval Cruise Missile). The original naval missile has a launch weight of 1,600 kg, including the 300 kg warhead, and a range of over 1,000 km. Considering its dimensions — 6.5 meters in length — separate launchers are required for its deployment.

Another notable development from MBDA is the Joint Fire Support Missile (JFS-M), a land-based cruise missile adapted for launch from the HIMARS platform. This is a new original development that is not based on any existing missiles but uses some pre-made components. The missile has minimalist dimensions of 2.6 meters in length and a launch weight of 250 to 300 kg, with a range of about 500 km.

Next up we have Norwegian manufacturer Kongsberg which offers its Naval Strike Missile, an anti-ship system adapted for use against land targets, and its air-launched version, the Joint Strike Missile.

Kongsberg is also working on the new Super Sonic Strike Missile (3SM) Tyrfing, in collaboration with MBDA and German Diehl. However, this project is by no means expected to be completed in the short or medium term, with a deadline currently set for 2035.

It's also worth noting that there are currently no ballistic missiles in the European segment of NATO. However, this capability gap could be addressed through cooperation with partners, especially considering the entry of Korea and Israel into the European market, offering various ready-made solutions with potential for localization in Europe.

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