New capabilities introduced to the new batch of Block IV Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missiles (TLAM) are transforming the weapon of the 1980s into a smarter, more versatile 21st century weapon.
Recent updates now becoming standard in the system added network-enabled capabilities to the weapon, enabling in-flight retargeting capabilities. Impressed with the new capabilities the Navy is planning to deploy the retargetable, modernized land-attack Block IV weapon on board ships as a dual-mission ‘Maritime Strike Tomahawk’ (MST).
Fielding of MST is scheduled to begin this year (2017) as a quick reaction program, and include a production series of some 4,000 missiles. Tomahawk is used by U.S. and British forces to defeat integrated air defense systems and strike high-value, fixed and moving targets.
The new Block IV Tomahawk is the longest range weapon operated by the U.S. Navy from surface ships. The recent tests conducted by the U.S. Navy were part of the weapon’s evolution.
The new Block IV Tomahawk is the longest range weapon operated by the U.S. Navy from surface ships. The recent tests conducted by the U.S. Navy were part of the weapon’s evolution. From a weapon using GPS/INS – guidance to designed to hit targets beyond 1,000 miles with high precision, today’s Tomahawk can also receive course and target updates in flight, circle on command and even transmit photos of the target back to the command center, seconds before striking.
Optional new capabilities include the use passive RF seeker to track moving targets; enhanced lethality, employing the remaining fuel to create a thermobaric, fuel-air explosive effect is also planned.
Realizing the networked capability could also become a vulneraility, the shipboard, Tactical Tomahawk Weapon Control System (TTWCS) was exposed to cyber attacks to prove its imunity to such threats.
This ability to alter a Tomahawk missile’s mission in real-time is new, one of many enhancements Raytheon is building into this go-to weapon. “It’s unique in the country’s portfolio, in terms of its very long range and the fact that it’s deployed from ships and submarines,” said Dave Adams, Raytheon’s Tomahawk senior program director. “If you look at everywhere a ship or a sub can go with the range that we have, you literally can cover 90 percent of the world.”