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Recertification and Modernisation on Venerable TOMAHAWK’s Horizon

2018 Surface Navy Association Day 2 (January 10) Conference Report

Mönch US correspondent Marty Kauchak is attending the 2018 Surface Navy Association 30th Annual National Symposium in Arlington, Virginia; USA. He files this end of day report with highlights from the exhibition floor and conference rooms.

The Raytheon-built TOMAHAWK missile programme had a, “strong 2017,” according to Chris Sprinkle, Senior Program Manager for TOMAHAWK in the Air Warfare Systems Division of Raytheon Missile Systems. The industry expert pointed out the programme had the firing of 60 missiles into Syria in response to chemical weapons attacks, and had, “outstanding mission success – with a less than 24-hour response to [US] presidential tasking.”

Further, the programme completed five of five successful test flights and a refined concept of operations for maritime strike missions, and received a new contract.

The major story in the programme is the quest to expand each TOMAHAWK missile’s life span to 30 years through a rigorous mid-life modernisation and recertification programme. The US Navy is investing about U$2 billion through the five-year service budget to annually enhance about 200 legacy missiles through key upgrades.

The upgraded missiles will receive an enhanced communications suite. Further, the TOMAHAWKs will obtain the JMEWS (Joint Multi-Effects Warhead System) warhead. “This is not a Program of Record,” Mr. Sprinkle said. “This is being pursued to improve our performance hardened targets – about 5-15ft [1.5-4.6m] of concrete-type targets which our adversaries are continually improving. JMEWS is designed for that but really, more importantly, it is designed to be multi-effect – where pre- and even post-launch, you can redefine the effect you want. Say you initially launched against a factory-type target – a soft target – and all of a sudden you need to go against a bunker. You can redirect and redesignate the target accordingly.”

JMEWS is expected to transition to a Program of Record this year.

Upgraded TOMAHAWKs will also receive US Congressionally-mandated M-Code GPS and a maritime strike/multi-mode seeker. Mr. Sprinkle declined to discuss the ranges and other details of the bolstered seeker package.

Last August, Raytheon and the US Navy delivered the 4,000th TOMAHAWK Block IV cruise missile to the fleet. The Block III missile is being phased out of the inventory with the plan to have only Block IV and Block IV modernised TOMAHAWKs in fleet magazines.

The TOMAHAWK has one foreign military sales customer, the Royal Navy, with Block III and IV missiles delivered for that navy to equip, as it deems appropriate, the ASTUTE- and TRAFALGAR-classes of attack submarines. “We hear the demand signal – it is going up, to deal with the challenges around the world. We talk to our allies. What we are trying to do now is create affordable ‘FMS missiles’ to provide to our various allies,” Mr. Sprinkle concluded.

A key industry partner on the Raytheon-led team includes Ball Aerospace.


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