The U.S. State Department has approved a $368.53 million deal with Britain to provide Tomahawk cruise missile support and equipment.
The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale:
“The Government of the United Kingdom (UK) has requested to buy follow-on support for all three segments of the United Kingdom’s Tomahawk Weapon System (TWS). This includes the All Up Round (AUR), Tactical Tomahawk Weapon Control System (TTWCS) and Theater Mission Planning Center (TMPC). The support includes recertification of the UK’s missiles; unscheduled missile maintenance; spares; procurement; training; in-service support; software; hardware; communication equipment; operational flight test; engineering and technical expertise to maintain the TWS capability; and other related elements of logistical and program support. The total estimated program cost is $368.53 million.
The proposed sale will sustain the operating capability of the United Kingdom, ensuring maritime forces’ interoperability with United States and other allied forces as well as their ability to contribute to missions of mutual interest by delivering follow-on support and sustainment. By deploying the Tomahawk Weapon system, the United Kingdom contributes to global readiness and enhances the capability for the U.S. forces operating globally alongside them. The United Kingdom already operates this capability, and will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces.
The prime contractor will be Raytheon Missiles and Defense, Tucson, AZ. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.”
The Tomahawk missile, also known as TLAM, allows Royal Navy submarines of the Astute and Trafalgar class to strike at targets on land accurately at a range of around 1,000 miles.
The missile is a highly accurate, GPS-enabled weapon that the US and allied militaries have used more than 2,000 times in combat, and flight-tested 500 times say the manufacturer.
In April 2017, US Navy destroyers launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at targets on a Syrian air base. In 2014, a US Navy destroyer and a guided missile cruiser launched 47 Tomahawk missiles in a strike on the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria.
It’s important to remember that Tomahawk is a cruise missile, so rather than taking on a ballistic trajectory, it stays close to the ground, steering around terrain features, using a jet engine instead of a rocket engine to fly. It is hoped that by the missile keeping low—because of its small radar signature—the Tomahawk avoids radar-guided defences that can threaten manned aircraft.
The missile has been in use with the Royal Navy since the late 1990s and has been used in the Kosovo conflict and in the campaigns against the Taliban, Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi.
The missile is fired from a boat’s torpedo tubes. Once it reaches the surface, a booster rocket ignites to propel the missile skywards. Tomahawk then heads for its target at 550 mph, delivering a 1,000 lb explosive warhead.