US Navy modernises TOMAHAWK missiles with Payload Tubes and Modules
In July, the US Navy (USN) successfully test fired in the Gulf of Mexico, near Florida, two Raytheon-built TOMAHAWK cruise missiles from new the submarine Block III Virginia Payload Tube fitted on the VIRGINIA’ class submarine, USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784). The tests proved the ability of the submarines to load, carry and vertically launch Tomahawk missiles from the upgraded tubes, which feature fewer parts and will be even more reliable.
In addition to the new payload tubes, the USN is also developing a new Virginia Payload Module, which will triple the number of TOMAHAWK missiles that ‘VIRGINIA class submarines can carry, thus dramatically increasing each submarine’s firepower. Surface ships and other classes of submarines can carry more than 100 Tomahawks when needed. US and British forces use Tomahawk cruise missiles to defeat integrated air defence systems and conduct long-range precision strike missions against high-value targets.
“As the Navy continues to modernise its subs, Raytheon continues to modernise TOMAHAWK, keeping this one-of-a-kind weapon well ahead of the threat,” said Mike Jarrett, Raytheon Air Warfare Systems Vice-President. “Today’s TOMAHAWK is a far cry from its predecessors and tomorrow’s missile will feature even more capability, giving our sailors the edge they need for decades to come.”
The USN continues to upgrade the TOMAHAWK Block IV’s communication and navigation capabilities, while adding a multi-mode seeker so it can hit high-value moving targets at sea. These modernised versions are on track to deploy beginning of 2019 and are expected to be in the USN inventory beyond 2040.
Dr. Alix Valenti