BONN, JULY 11 -- West Germany, irritated by U.S. pressure in the spring to accept a broader bargain than Bonn wanted on reducing intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe, is backing away from supporting a four-year-old NATO plan to replace antiquated U.S. battlefield-range Lance missiles with modernized versions, West German officials and political sources said this week.

Instead of deploying updated models of the short-range Lance, senior West German officials suggested, the United States should deploy new intermediate-range nuclear weapons based on submarines or ships off Europe's coast and improve the punch of European-based warplanes.

Senior military planners of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization also contend that such weapons -- sea-based cruise missiles and nuclear missiles and bombs on planes using advanced, Stealth technology -- should be deployed in coming years to maintain the credibility of NATO's deterrent if intermediate-range, ground-based missiles are removed as foreseen under a U.S.-Soviet arms treaty.

Bonn's shift on the Lance, and the calls for increased reliance on offshore and airborne weapons, are the two most significant changes in NATO thinking on nuclear strategy to have resulted so far from the prospect that Washington and Moscow will agree to remove from Europe all of their ground-based missiles in the 300-to-3,500-mile range.

The developments reflect West Germany's feeling that its interests were sacrificed in NATO's bitter internal debate in the spring over the proposed nuclear arms accord and a broader feeling among NATO military planners and Western European conservative politicians that the treaty could weaken NATO's ability to deter a Soviet attack.

The Bonn government will resist deploying an updated version of the Lance as agreed by NATO defense ministers in a 1983 meeting in Montebello, Canada, West German officials and political sources said. The government has not made a final decision on the project, but sentiment has shifted strongly against it, they said.

NATO agreed at Montebello to replace the alliance's 88 Lance missile launchers with an upgraded version of the weapon as part of an overall plan to simultaneously reduce and modernize battlefield-range nuclear weapons in Europe. About two-thirds of NATO's Lance missiles, which have a range of 70 miles, are deployed in West Germany. The rest are in Britain, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Much of the Montebello agreement already has been put in effect, as NATO's arsenal of nuclear artillery shells and mines has been reduced. Work on a successor to the Lance is still in the research and development stage in the United States.

Bonn's stance could make it more difficult for the U.S. administration to persuade Congress to provide further funds for developing a new version of the Lance. Congress has been skeptical of the project in the past.

Bonn's new reservations are a direct result of the broadening of the planned U.S.-Soviet arms control agreement to cover missiles with a range of between 300 and 600 miles in addition to missiles in the 600-to-3,500-mile range, the Bonn officials and political sources said.

West Germany resisted the broadening of the treaty on the grounds that the proposed accord would provide for removal from Europe of all of the superpowers' ground-based nuclear missiles except those in the under-300-mile range, such as the Lance. These battlefield nuclear weapons most likely would be used on the front lines during a war and thus would detonate almost exclusively on German soil.

Bonn specifically warned Washington during discussions in April and May that widening the proposed pact would endanger the Montebello plan, officials and political sources said.

In addition, during the discussions in the spring over the arms treaty, Bonn was angered by a Pentagon suggestion to increase NATO's Lance arsenal from 88 to 400, the West German officials and sources said. U.S. officials contended in private talks that the additional weapons would be necessary to help compensate for the proposed removal of intermediate-range weapons, they said.

The West Germans rejected that proposal in strong terms, and senior officials here have said publicly since then that they will continue to oppose any expansion of NATO's arsenal of battlefield nuclear weapons.

The West Germans also were irritated in the spring discussions by the insistence of their NATO partners that future negotiations should be ruled out on missiles in the under-300-mile range.

The United States, Britain and France are concerned that negotiations on battlefield-range missiles would give the Soviets the opportunity to press for removal of all such missiles and that NATO's nuclear deterrent would be further weakened. In arms control parlance, they sought a "firebreak" against reductions in weapons below the 300-mile range.

In contrast, the West Germans strongly favor talks on reducing short-range missiles. The dispute was papered over at a NATO foreign ministers' meeting in Iceland last month with a commitment eventually to seek talks on battlefield missiles, but U.S. officials made clear afterward that such negotiations were a low priority for Washington.

"Some allies were immediately in favor of the {broadened} . . . proposal {in the spring}, but then they immediately told us this means a firebreak at 300 miles. And the same allies told us, we have to substitute and enhance our systems below {the} 300 {-mile range}. You can't handle arms control proposals in such a way. That is why we struggled against it," Horst Teltschik, Chancellor Helmut Kohl's top security adviser, said in an interview.

Teltschik suggested, and Defense Minister Manfred Woerner has said publicly, that the way to "plug the gap" left by the withdrawal of ground-based, intermediate-range missiles is through increased dependence on sea-based and airborne nuclear systems with similar ranges.

The West Germans' concern, shared at NATO headquarters in Brussels, is that the treaty provides for removing from Europe all ground-based missiles with a capability of striking Soviet territory.

"If we have to do without a particularly effective and therefore deterrent part of our nuclear arms systems, then the crucial question is: How will we keep our strategy effective? By stocking up our nuclear arms supply with a range under 300 miles? No. With air-based and sea-based nuclear weapons with greater ranges? Yes," Woerner said in a recent interview with the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

The Americans have privately assured NATO military planners that improvements in cruise missile and aircraft technology will guarantee that the alliance will retain a credible ability in the 1990s to penetrate Soviet air defenses and stage nuclear strikes, senior NATO officials said.

NATO's military leaders find the proposed treaty acceptable only on the condition that such options will be available in the next decade, the officials said.