Real-time mission control

Commanders can revise Tomahawk missile's mission even after it's launched

Raytheon-built Tomahawk Block IV missiles

The U.S. Navy launched two Raytheon-built Tomahawk Block IV missiles from the Vertical Launch System of USS Pinckney (DDG 91) off the coast of California in back-to-back flight tests that showcased the weapon’s flexible, mission-critical planning ability. Image is from a previous test.

The Tomahawk cruise missile is already in flight when the call comes in.

Something's come up. A new, more urgent danger.

The commander makes his own call. The missile is re-directed, placed on its way to the new, higher-priority target.

This ability to alter a Tomahawk  missile's mission in real-time is new, one of many enhancements Raytheon is building into this go-to weapon. Two tests by the U.S. Navy recently proved the missile can receive and respond to new orders while in flight. And there's another advantage to the new Tomahawk missile: it now has the longest range of any similar weapon that can be carried on a ship.

“We’re very excited about where the Navy wants to go with Tomahawk,” said Dave Adams, Raytheon’s Tomahawk missile senior program director.

Tomahawk cruise missile

The Tomahawk cruise missile is a network-enabled weapon capable of in-flight retargeting and redirection.

For the first time, the Navy is considering using Tomahawk missiles against moving targets, an important consideration on the open sea.

“It’s unique in the country’s portfolio, in terms of its very long range and the fact that it’s deployed from ships and submarines,” Adams said. “If you look at everywhere a ship or a sub can go with the range that we have, you literally can cover 90 percent of the world.”

The Navy tests were the next step in the evolution of the Tomahawk missile, a GPS-guided precision weapon that can fly more than 1,000 miles, circle on command and even transmit photos of its target to commanders before striking.

This missile is used by U.S. and British forces to defeat integrated air defense systems and strike high-value, fixed and moving targets.

“Tomahawk is considered the weapon of choice,” Adams said.

Published On: 01/11/2017
Last Updated: 10/04/2018