Congress Plans to Boost the Tomahawk Missiles Fleet

Congress Plans to Boost the Tomahawk Missiles Fleet

FARNBOROUGH, England — All four Congressional defense committees have aligned to support an increase in Tomahawk missile production in 2015 and beyond.

Following suit with the House Armed Services Committee’s mark-up of the fiscal year 2015 defense bill, the Senate Appropriations Committee recently announced it hopes to add $82 million for Tomahawk production in 2015.

The move raises planned Tomahawk production for 2015 from 100 missiles to 196. The fiscal year 2015 budget proposal had called for 100 Tomahawk missiles to be produced in 2015 before stopping production in 2016 until re-certification in 2019.


The Congressional action paves the way for continued life, production and enhancements for the Tomahawk.

Tomahawks have been upgraded numerous times over their years of service. The Block IV Tomahawk, in service since 2004, includes a two-way data link for in-flight re-targeting, terrain navigation, digital scene-matching cameras and a high-grade inertial navigation system, said Raytheon Tomahawk program director Roy Donelson here at the Farnborough International Airshow.

The missiles have a 30-year lifespan and a 15-year performance guarantee, so the inventory of Block IV missiles are slated to go through a re-certification process in 2018 and 2019.

The re-certification process for Block IV Tomahawks will offer the opportunity to implement a series of high-tech upgrades to the missile platform which improve the weapon’s lethality, guidance and ability to find and destroy moving targets, Donelson explained.

With this in mind, Raytheon has been conducting ongoing recertification studies with the Navy to take up questions regarding upgrades and new technologies for the platform, Donelson said.

Along these lines, the fiscal year 2015 budget also adds $150 million for a new Tomahawk missile navigation and communications suite in order to better enable the weapon to operate in anti-access/area-denial environments, he added.

Donelson explained that a number of the current technological upgrade efforts are timed to coincide with the planned recertification of the inventory of 3,000 Block IV Tomahawk missiles.

Along with the advanced communications and navigation suite, which is planned to be ready by 2018 or 2019, Raytheon is also developing a new seeker, processor and warhead for the weapon.

“With a thirty year service life and a fifteen year warranty a lot of these systems will come back in 2018 and 2019 with all the upgrades. Tomahawk will be able to do autonomous and semi-autonomous operations in the future.  We’re looking at supersonic concepts and new payloads,” he said.

Among the new payloads is a new warhead called the Joint Multiple Effects Warhead System, or JMEWS. It was recently sponsored by U.S. Central Command. The JMEWS would give the Tomahawk better bunker buster type effects — meaning it could enable the weapon to better penetrate hardened structures like reinforced concrete.

Donelson said that Raytheon is conducting JMEWS risk-reduction testing with the Navy and hopes to enter into a new development phase by next year.

Testing analyzed the ability of the programmable warhead to integrate onto the most advanced Block IV Tomahawk missile, a weapon which can loiter over targets, send back single frame images and change course in flight via a GPS guidance system.

Donelson explained that Raytheon is also working on new passive and active seeker technology for the Tomahawk which would even better enable the weapon to discriminate between targets and destroy moving targets.

A passive seeker can receive an electromagnetic signal and follow it, whereas an active seeker has the ability to send out or ping an electronic signal and bounce it off potential targets, he added.

Raytheon is planning additional testing for its new seeker system on the weapon, which would allow it to separate legitimate from false targets while on-the-move.

After additional lab testing, ground testing and flight testing, an integrate suite consisting of an active seeker, passive seeker and high-speed processor is slated to be ready by 2015, Donelson said.

Raytheon has invested $40 million thus far developing the new seeker and processor, and plans another captive carry test of the seeker in coming months, he added.

In service for 30 years and having been utilized in 20-years of operational combat, Tomahawks have been the focus of a number of incremental technological improvements ranging from navigation to targeting and data-link upgrades.

The weapons have been used for decades in combat. Roughly 800 tomahawks were fired in Operational Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and about 200 were used in Desert Storm, Donelson said.

In addition, more than 200 Tomahawks were fired in NATO action in Libya in 2011.

Tomahawk missiles weigh 3,500 pounds with a booster and can travel at subsonic speeds up to 550 miles per hour at ranges greater than 900 nautical miles. They are just over 18-feet long and have an 8-foot, 9-inch wingspan.

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Given the budgetary problems we are facing, increasing the production rate is kind of stupid. Perfect world we would want a lot more but this most assuredly is not a perfect world financially.

“Given the budgetary problems we are facing, increasing the production rate is kind of stupid.”

Eighty-two million bucks? Added to a staggeringly large $4.2T federal budget for FY15?

That isn’t exactly going to break the bank.

The Tomahawk isn’t a technological standout any longer and it’s ripe for replacement. But dumb administration decisions and poor program management mean that there is no replacement ready to go.

If there is not going to be a dangerous shortfall, production buys have to be ramped up. No alternative.

The congress does get it right every now and then

If we have anything to do with it they will be out of office and in the unemployment line by 2015

So previously they had planned to stop production in 2016 and then resume production in 2019? By 2019 we ought to have a new clean-sheet design to replace the Tomahawk with!

The Russian Navy has hundreds of tactical nuclear missiles on its ships enabling it to wipe out the USN in one coordinated strike.
Obama had all tactical 200 nuclear missiles the USN had destroyed in 2010 including its nuclear warheads
His Global Zero policy is a fallacy and reason for impeachment
Congress needs to push for new tactical nuclear cruise missiles for the USN before it is too late

Sometimes I wonder if Obama has to give Hawk and TOW missiles to Iran before he is as loved as Ronald Reagan.

This thing really needs to be replaced. Preferably by a stretched JASSM-ER.

Actually we SOLD Hawks to Iran and used the money to subvert the Contras.

Yes, and the Contras did lots of fun things in their quest to depose their opponents. Sleeping better indeed. And because of the instability of the Great Game played in Central America we have gangs like MS 13 and the drug trade on our southern border, problems that drive waves of immigration north to this day.

How is selling Hawks to Iran after the revolution good? Waiting for Obama to start selling Hawks to Iran again and using the money for cause de jure.

Something is better than nothing. Though I hope they use it as a testbed for LRASM technologies to assure technology maturity.

A low RCS version of the Tomahawk may be helpful for penetrating enemy airspace, and if we ever use them anti-ship again. 1,000 pounds of high explosive at low velocity will gut most ships.

FYI, Reagan supported the Contras against the Sandanistas. No “subversion” of Contras as much as backing them.

If Obama sold TOW missiles to Iran to fund anti-Assad Syrian freedom fighters, he’d be about on par with Reagan. It would also be deliciously ironic.

Congress should fund the military with most nuclear capability, as Regan did in the Cold War!

anyone who thinks we need more cruise missiles and Bomb need to think, what’s more important
helping the middle class and the poor or just bomb county while where killing indecent people. Missile
and bomb fails. You idiots think war is more important then helping this county with jobs, if the GOP
spend more time helping this county then trying to impeach a good man the President that we all know
its a stunt. there is not a GOP who dose not like war. like the saying goes there is not a war that
the GOP does not like or the people who support them. wake up America.

You can bet the republicans & the military will like him buying them, they probably advised him to.

$82 million chump change indeed when Obama just asked for $4 billion to pay for services for the wave of illegal immigration he has caused.

Agree 100% plus adequate funding for the SSBN(X), NGB and MMIII replacement ICBM along with new advanced warhead development and production.

The tomahawk is not survivable enough and no upgrade will ever really fix that. The Navy had better get some JASSM-ERs for its F-18s instead before the its replacement is available.

It is amazing that the Navy has outdated cruise missiles and almost no surface launched anti-ship missiles.

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