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Background of the Tomahawk Cruise Missile:

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.


The Tomahawk is a long range, subsonic cruise missile used for land attack warfare, launched from surface ships and submarines.

Features of the Tomahawk Cruise Missile:

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.

General Characteristics:

  • Primary Function: long-range subsonic cruise missile for striking high value or heavily defended land targets.
  • Contractor: Raytheon Systems Company, Tucson, Ariz.
  • Unit Cost: approximately $600,000 (from the last production contract)
  • Power Plant: Williams International F107-WR-402 cruise turbo-fan engine; CSD/ARC solid-fuel booster
  • Length: 18 feet 3 inches (5.56 meters); with booster: 20 feet 6 inches (6.25 meters)
  • Weight: 2,900 pounds (1,315.44 kg); 3,500 pounds (1,587.6 kg) with booster
  • Diameter: 20.4 inches (51.81 cm)
  • Wing Span: 8 feet 9 inches (2.67 meters)
  • Range: 870 nautical miles (1000 statute miles, 1609 km)
  • Speed: Subsonic - about 550 mph (880 km/h)
  • Guidance System: TERCOM, DSMAC, and GPS (Block III only)
  • Warheads: 1,000 pounds or conventional submunitions dispenser with combined effect bomblets.
  • Date Deployed: 1986 - IOC; 1994 - Block III; 2003 - Tactical Tomahawk
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    Where’s my battleship!?
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    So is that countries religion Scientology now dice you threw Tom cruise at it?
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    Too bad the first 2 pictures are of a RGM-84 Harpoon Anti-Ship missile, not a Tomahawk cruise missile. You can also see...
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    Right here:
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