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Tomahawk missile

The Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) is a long-range cruise missile designed by the General Dynamics in the 1970s. It was designed as a medium to long range, low altitude aircraft that could be launched from a submerged submarine. It was subsequently deployed both on submarines and surface vessels as well as in a nuclear equipped Air Force version (GLCM-Ground Launch Cruise Missile) that could be launched from trucks. Both the GLCM launch vehicles and GLCM missiles were destroyed as a result of the 1987 Intermediate (Range) Nuclear Forces Treaty.

The Tomahawk can be used against surface ships, as the Tomahawk Anti-Ship Missile (TASM), or land targets, employing several different types of warheads. Three primary variants are currently operational: nuclear land attack (TLAM-N) (not deployed), conventional land attack (TLAM-C, unitary warhead), and conventional land attack submunition (TLAM-D, dispense bomblets). It is an all-weather, subsonic missile with stubby wings, powered by a small turbofan engine. The small size of the Tomahawk gives it a low radar cross section and its low-level flight profile makes it difficult to intercept. Before launch, each missile is contained within a pressurized canister to form an all-up-round (AUR) to protect the missile during transportation and storage, and to act as a launch tube. The submarine AUR is launched from torpedo or vertical tubes (e.g. the later Los Angeles class submarines). Surface ships employ a vertical launching system (VLS). A solid fuel booster with steering vanes in its exhaust is used for launch and to provide steering during the initial few seconds of flight while the wings and control surfaces are deployed.

The Tomahawk is launched on a preset course above the water and, as it crosses over land, switches to an inertial and Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) system to guide the missile to its target with terminal guidance from the Digital Scene Matching Area Correlation (DSMAC) sytem, producing an accuracy of around 10m. The Block III TLAMs, entered service in 1993, have an extended range and incorporate a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver for improved reliability and time-of-arrival control to permit coordinated strikes between other missiles and aircraft. Block IV TLAMs have an upgraded DSMAC system; new Time of Arrival (TOA) control, and improved turbo engines.

In the 1991 Persian Gulf conflict 288 Tomahawks were launched at tactical targets. Twelve of the Tomahawks were launched by two attack submarines.

The Tomahawk Weapon System (TWS) consists of four major components: Tomahawk Missile, Theater Mission Planning Center (TMPC)/Afloat Planning System (APS), Tomahawk Weapon Control System (TWCS) for surface ships, and Combat Control System (CCS) for submarines.

The progression of Tomahawk weapon control systems are as follows...

TWCS - Tomahawk Weapon Control System (1983) also known as "Green screens", was based on an old tank computing system.

ATWCS - Advanced Tomahawk Weapon Control System (1994), First COTS System, Commercial Off the Shelf, uses HPUX.

TTWCS - Tactical Tomahawk Weapon Control System, Just now being deployed (2003) Increased capability over the ATWCS System.

Additional info:

The UK Royal Navy also operates the Tomahawk.

Length: 5.56 meters; with booster: 6.25 meters.

Diameter: 51.81 cm.

Wing Span: 2.67 meters.

Weight: 1192.5 kg; 1440 kg with booster.

Power Plant: Williams International F107-WR-402 turbo-fan and a solid-fuel booster.

Range: 1100 km.

Speed: about 880 km/hr

Warheads: Conventional: 1,000 lb Bullpup, or submunitions dispenser with combined effect bomblets, or 200 kiloton W-80 nuclear device.

Date Deployed: 1983

Costs: $1,900,000 - average unit cost; $11,210,000,000 - total program cost.