German defence officials will visit London later this month for exploratory discussions on the possibility of drawing together elements of the UK's Storm Shadow variant of the French Apache stand-off weapon with the German KEPD-350 to meet a German air force requirement for such a missile.

The officials are from the German defence ministry's procurement agency, the BWB, and the talks will explore the potential for multi-national co-operation in meeting the air force requirement.

The German defence ministry says that "-a stand-off weapon is needed by the German air force, but its not certain which, and when depends on the money available in the budget. It is now being examined how a multi-national co-operation could be established."

It adds that the industries of three countries - Germany's Daimler-Benz Aerospace (DASA) with the KEPD-350, and Anglo-French Matra BAe Dynamics with the Storm Shadow and the Apache - "-are in talks and are considering how they could do this. Talks are going on at political and industrial levels, but the industrial talks are more critical now".

"At least from the German side, there are efforts towards the creation of a single product in a partnership, including at least these three nations. The goal is to combine positive elements of the three programmes: Taurus, Apache and Storm Shadow," says the ministry. It has shelved plans to buy an anti-runway variant of the Apache.

Germany had hoped that the UK would select the KEPD-350 to meet its stand-off missile requirement. Instead, the Storm Shadow variant of the Apache was chosen, in effect providing a launch programme for the BAe Matra missile tie-up, Matra BAe Dynamics. At an industrial level, DASA's strategic plan to link its LFK missile unit with Aerospatiale has fallen foul of political and procurement issues.

Bonn sources suggest that there are two camps in the defence ministry: those who are in favour of Taurus, and those "-who are saying that you have to look at the wider political implications of this, and industry should come to an international agreement".

They add that "-DASA isn't thrilled at the idea of dropping its own, perfectly decent, programme", but it would settle for a compromise giving it a stake in a joint programme, rather than push ahead with the KEPD-350 and risk getting nothing.o

Just how much of KEPD-350 will survive?

Source: Flight International