Updated: 28 November 2000
Description: Long range, subsonic cruise missile used for land attack warfare, launched from surface ships and submarines.
Background: Tomahawk® cruise missiles are designed to fly at extremely low altitudes at high subsonic speeds, and are piloted over an evasive route by several mission tailored guidance systems. The first operational use was in Operation Desert Storm, 1991, with immense success. The missile has since been successfully used in several other conflicts. In 1995 the governments of the United States and United Kingdom signed a Foreign Military Sales Agreement for the acquisition of 65 missiles, marking the first sale of Tomahawk® to a foreign country. After a November 1998 launch and live warhead test, the U.K. declared operational capability.
Features: Tomahawk® Block II uses a Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) and Digital Scene Matching Area Correlation (DSMAC) missile guidance system. Block III adds a Global Positioning Satellite guidance capability to TERCOM and DSMAC. Radar detection of the missile is extremely difficult because of the small radar cross-section and low altitude. Tomahawk® has two warhead configurations: a 1,000-lb. blast/fragmentary unitary warhead and a general-purpose submunition dispenser with combined effect bomblets. Because of its long range, lethality, and extreme accuracy Tomahawk® has become the weapon of choice for the U.S. Department of Defense.
The capabilities of the future Tomahawk®, Block IV or
Tactical Tomahawk®, will include battle damage assessment, in
flight retargeting, and mission planning from the launch platform. With added
capabilities Tactical Tomahawk® will carry on the superior
tradition of its predecessor into the 21st Century. It is projected to enter
service in 2003.
Point of Contact:
Program Executive Office, Strike Weapons and Unmanned Aviation [PEO (W)]
Public Affairs Office
Naval Air Station
Patuxent River, Maryland 20670-1547